Chart Music #5: August 14th 1980 – Watch Yer Backs!

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The fifth episode of the podcast which asks: why is Richard Stilgoe going on about acne?

This episode finds Top Of The Pops smack in the middle of the Eighventies in a state of flux, after being off air for nine weeks due to a Musicians Union strike. The Kids are sat on the floor, the set is even more sparse than usual, and they’re experimenting with guest co-hosts – a process which would start with Elton John and end with, er, Russ Abbot. This week, it’s Tommy Vance and Roger Daltrey – The McVicar Himself – who takes crumpet-leering to heights that not even DLT would think possible, moans about The Clash not being on (when everyone else knows they don’t do TOTP), and casts that aspersion upon the Village People.

Musicwise, we carom from Ultravox awkwardly dancing behind synths to Legs & Co channelling the spirit of the International Day episode of Peppa Pig to the Dad in Worzel Gummidge performing an old song which isn’t a patch on I Got Those Can’t Get Enough Of Those Blue Riband Blues to Grace Jones with a fag on to David Bowie’s dead expensive new video to Abba putting a right downer on everything at the end with their adult relationship break-up palaver. And the drummer of Slade sits there with a shaker for no real reason at all.

Al Needham is joined by Taylor Parkes and David Stubbs for a through evisceration of 1980, veering off to talk about how Roger Daltrey put them off meat for life, what it’s like to stop the night at Benny Out Of Abba’s hotel, and how being dressed as a Pierrot on an orange beach and reacting to having your picture taken by a paparazzo as if you’ve been shot is a bit rubbish, really. And loads of swearing.

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Chart Music #4: April 12th 1979 – The Rabbity Angel of Death

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The fourth episode of the podcast which asks: what the fuck is a ‘Baby’s Treat’?

This episode takes us back to the absolute cusp of the Eighties, a mere three weeks away before Margaret Thatcher starts wiping her arse on the country delivers strong and stable leadership. No synthy palaver or 2-Tonery in the charts just yet ? it’s a lucky bag of randomness consisting of Punk bands at the end of their tether, Disco behemoths, and Ted revivalists clinging on for dear life. And Peter Powell is ridiculously excited by all of it, but especially the brass in Supertramp’s The Logical Song.

Highlights of this episode include Kate Bush having her arse removed by the BBC, Legs & Co channelling the spirit of Punk by sticking their tongues out, Racey having a Gail Tilsley lookalike as their lead singer, Jimmy Pursey skidding on his arse and influencing Indian wedding videos of the 1980s, and Art Garfunkel’s Kurt Cobain Gun Fingers.

Al Needham is joined by Melody Maker scribes Simon Price and Neil Kulkarni for a severe going-over of the Sound of ’79, breaking off to reminisce about listening to the new Top 40 in the bushes of a private school, being tormented by older sisters who can do Kate Bush’s eye-bulge trick, and keeping away from local youths in double-denim trying to smash park benches in time to the drum bits in Hey Rock n’ Roll.

(Warning: we were severely bum-rushed by the Skype goblins during the recording of this one, so the edit might be a bit shonky and heavy-manners)

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Chart Music #3: November 15th 1973 – Ken, Ken, Ken, Ken and Donny

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The third edition of the podcast which asks: is that an apple or a strawberry on Pans Peoples’ arses?

In this episode – the chunkiest yet – we set the controls of the Time Sofa smack into the heart of the Glam era and get down to ’73. The charts are caked with the bland mung of Osmond, but it’s also rammed out with mid-Sixties chancers suddenly finding themselves in the Big Time in strange trousers, and milking their opportunity dry. And Tony Blackburn is on hand to vibrate with excitement, suggest that records about failed relationships make great Christmas presents, and abuse a Womble.

Highlights of this episode include Alvin Stardust debuting the Satanic sound of the Mansfield Delta, Mott The Hoople demonstrating that if you’re on a three-day week, have a four-day weekend,  Paul McCartney wallowing in his Style Council period, Kiki Dee flinging disgusting filth at our Pop Kids, and the Bacofoiled Elephant In The Room crashing straight in at No.1.

Al Needham is joined by Melody Maker veterans Taylor Parkes and Simon Price for a good old hack at the face of the Velvet Tinmine, breaking off every now and then to discuss who we fancied at the age of 5, the difference between cheesecloth and gingham, and what happens when you mention Gary Glitter at a pub quiz.

(Warning: lots of swearing, occasional seagull interference, and a long conversation about Gary Glitter which goes beyond fist-shaking and arguing over which one of us would pull the lever first)

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Chart Music #2: February 9th 1984 – When You Want To Suck And Chew It

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The second edition of the podcast which asks: who would win in a massive cage fight amongst Radio 1 DJs of the 70s and 80s?

This episode, we enter the late winter of George Orwell’s visionary magnum opus – but not even in his worst nightmares would he have imagined the Ministry of Pop Telly trying (and failing) to throw the No.1 single down the memory hole. And a Top 40 with two Thompson Twins entries.

Thankfully, we’re spared both of them, but what we actually get is cow-heavy and laden with the musk of the lower reaches of the charts, heavily influenced by the Channel Fourification of pop music, and overseen by Dave Lee Travis and his YTS lad Gary Davies. The Smiths make their second appearance, Nik Kershaw models the 2048 Little Chef uniform, Madness give up doing the Bummer Conga and go all serious, and we’re shocked to learn that Madonna isn’t black. And Marillion see fit to bring eight synths into the studio when there’s really no need.

Al Needham is joined by David Stubbs and Taylor Parkes for a serious pick amongst the brightly-coloured rags of the mid-Eighties, checking for stains along the way. Sorry for the delay on this: there’s been technical mither we need not go into.

(loads of swearing and explicit descriptions of what eleven year-olds think Paul McCartney does)

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Chart Music #1: July 14th 1977 – Like Punk Hadn’t Really Happened Just Yet

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The debut of the podcast that takes a random episode of Top Of The Pops and breaks it down to its very last compound. It’s the Summer of ’77, and the Sex Pistols are finally allowed on. Will The Kids start gobbing on anyone onstage in flares? Will Legs & Co do the Pogo whilst dressed as giant swastikas? Will Kid Jensen point out that you have to destroy in order to create, and then tell the viewing audience to ‘Fuck Off’?

Strangely enough, no. Supertramp and Hot Chocolate defiantly sport the billowingist white flares ever seen on British television, the lead singer of Jigsaw models the latest styles from C&A’s ‘Mr Humphries’ collection, there’s some disturbing Ted-skipping in the audience, and Kenny Rogers comes back from Saudi Arabia. And Cilla Black’s on it.

Al Needham is joined by David Stubbs and Sarah Bee – two former Melody Maker journalists and all-round mint and skill writers – for a comprehensive blather about everything to do with this episode, amongst other things. It’s a first go, so it may be is a bit rough-arse in places, but – as a wise man once said – ‘We Don’t CAAAAAARRRRRRRRE.’

(and there’s swearing)

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