Chart Music #65: July 8th 1982 – Dancey Reagan

The latest episode of the podcast which asks; if Steve Miller is in a consensual relationship, and keeps away from certain designated areas, and he’s not just doing it to show off in front of his mates, is it acceptable in today’s society to reach out and grab her?

This episode, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, sees your panel – who are currently toting huge consignments of heroin around Leeds, swiftly climbing up the class system of Coventry and still getting over the terror of finding someone’s undergarments in a sex-grafitti’d public toilet in St Pancras station – on the horns of a dilemma; on one hand, a premium-strength episode of Yellow Hurll-era TOTP. On the other, a World Cup semi-final. The latter doesn’t kick off until we’re 30 minutes into this episode, but at what point do our heroes break and succumb to the boot-on-ball surrender? And will Al have to watch all of this on a black-and-white portable with a coat hanger for an ariel, or will his Dad slink off to the pub and let him watch it downstairs?

Musicwise, it’s a game of two halves, with two landmark events occurring and a blizzard of Huge Eighties Things being introduced to us for the first time ever. Imagination are at the top of their flouncy, slinky game. Bruno’s Dad lamps someone for ripping a speaker off his cab. Jeffrey Daniel reprises the Starman Moment of the Eighties and makes the Weetabix throw their Doc Martens in a skip. AC/DC get their cannons muffled. But just when you think this could be greatest TOTP episode ever, Jonathan King crashes in like Toni Schumacher on Patrick Battiston in order to curl off another dollop of rubbish American rammel  (although he introduces the UK to Mr T. And Deeleyboppers)

But then! Out of nowhere come the Good Germans – Trio – who produce one of the greatest TOTP performances ever, followed by Odyssey slamming home one of the greatest singles ever, and all is well. But oh dear, that ‘3’ button is about to take a hammering as Bananarama pitch up in big nappies, Bucks Fizz take time out from bombing the Ruhr to cheat on each other, Captain Sensible ducks out of the pub to pretend to be the bastard son Worzel Gummidge and Toyah, and some magicians do their underwhelming pieces to the Steve Miller Band. Everything astoundingly life-affirmingly right and groin-punchingly wrong about early-Eighties TOTP is here, and it gets picked over in the usual manner.

Rock Expert David Stubbs and Neil Kulkarni join Al Needham for a dance on the car roof of 1982, veering off on such tangents as being nestled against Mr C’s packet, the Line-dancing community of Birmingham, being at a loss about what to say to Jimi Hendrix, wondering what ‘Eagle Farm Today’ actually means, and Top Of The Pops getting Bobby Gee to fight some swans in a cage in a desperate attempt to keep watching BBC1. And all that lovely swearing, too!   

Part One: Preamble

Part Two: Kid Jensen, Imagination, Irene Cara, Shalamar

Part Three: AC/DC, Jonathan King, Juice Newton, Survivor, John Cougar, The Human League, Trio

Part Four: Odyssey, Bananarama, Bucks Fizz, Captain Sensible, The Steve Miller Band

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Chart Music #64: April 26th 1984 – Metal Mickey Dropping His Guts

The latest episode of the podcast which asks; does playing Legend by Bob Marley constitute a hate crime?

Finally, Chart Music gets off its fat arse, gets on its bike and starts looking for a job, and it’s a particularly fraught one: rummaging through an episode from the arse-end of the Yellow Hurll era in an attempt to find anything nourishing and skill. It’s the other side of Easter ’84, and your panel are a) not bothering to revise for CSEs which are useless in Thatcher’s Britain, b) failing to understand the Greek alphabet and wondering why anyone in Coventry would need to learn it, and c) playing gigs in a Barry shopping centre and trying to make acoustic guitars sound like the Jesus and Mary Chain. The good news is that Top Of The Pops is still a beacon of Pop Nowness. The bad news: over a year ahead of schedule, the Dinosaurs of Pop have come lumbering back and Simon Bates – frighteningly – doesn’t look out of place in the studio for the first time ever. This, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, isyour Dad’s Top Of The Pops – a half-hour Radio 2 of the soul. 

Musicwise, oh dear; there’s only one teenager on stage in the entire episode. Morrissey shows how right-on and inclusive he is by letting Sandie Shaw borrow his band for a while. A cursed Mayan mask with the mouth of Phil Collins soundtracks some horrific morning dog-breathed snogging. Belle and the Devotions prepare to be booed at in Luxembourg. Island Records de-Rastacise Bob Marley by 110% and recreate the opening credits of Pigeon Street. Duran Duran make their long-awaited return to the UK and demonstrate that reports of their demise are premature. Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias practically come on to each other. Our Bands are represented by Echo and the Bunnymen. The Flying Pickets have one last warm against the brazier of the charts before the Massive Clay Head pulls us into its orbit.

Neil Kulkarni and Simon Price join Al Needham for a long, hard stare at 1984, whirling off into such tangents as having Xmas ruined by Ed Sheeran, the majesty of studded gauntlets, recreating images of Bob Marley with football mascots, getting punched in the stomach by Eurovision winners, Effing and Jeffing in an Osmonds’ house, now not to commence that vital gig in a Chilean prison, petals in beer at Cardiff Uni, and the proud parents of Alien Sex Fiend. GO FOR IT, Pop-Crazed Youngsters – and enjoy all that lovely swearing…

Part One: Preamble

Part Two: Simon Bates, Janice Long, Sandie Shaw & The Smiths, Phil Collins

Part Three: Belle and the Devotions, Bob Marley, Duran Duran

Part Four: Willie Nelson & Julio Iglesias, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Flying Pickets, Lionel Richie, The Pointer Sisters

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Chart Music #63: December 28th 1972 – Thank God For Belgian World In Action

The latest episode of the podcast which asks; Singleton Noakes Purves and Judd, or Baxter Woollard and Rodd – who was the better Prog band?

Santa has come once more to Chart Music, Pop-Crazed Youngsters – but this year he’s decided not to curl one off into our stocking, and has dropped off what is indisputably the greatest episode of the Pops we’ve chanced upon thus far in our five-year odyssey, plucked from the very dawning of the Golden Age. No, it’s not a Xmas Day one – that year’s episode, featuring Jinglenonce OBE introducing Clair by Gilbert O’Sullivan, has been plunged into the memory hole – but as always it’s an opportunity for the show ponies of Our Brand New Favourite Year For Pop to have a trot-about, egged on by Tony Blackburn and his foul nemesis Edmonds.

Musicwise, GASP: a combination of old chancers and young upstarts team up to drag Pop away from the foul mung of the Sixventies, the Heads are chased off by unkempt youths in spangles, and the result is a glorious year for singles – and this episode of TOTP is a non-stop barrage of banger after banger after banger after banger. Mike Leander invents the DNA of Glam. Donny Osmond demonstrates why eleven year-old girls turn up at his hotel with sledgehammers. After some KID’S LIB INNIT, Hilda Woodward casts an eerie spell and enchants the Kids into the worst occurrence of Granny Claps ever seen on Top Of The Pops. Roberta Flack takes over on piano. THE PEOPLE’S BAND shake a silvery top hat. Benny Hill delivers last year’s Xmas #1. Chicory Tip whip the silver and gold-booted hooligans of Sheffield into a frenzy. Cherry Gillespie’s three-day ordeal in wrapping paper bondage mercifully comes to an end. Mary Whitehouse’s masturbatory nightmares are relived once more, with the assistance of Rolf Harris. Then it’s the three-punch knockout of Utah Valhalla, the Jackson 5 and the Blessed Marc before Ringo pitches up at the end.

Neil Kulkarni and Taylor Parkes join Al Needham for a celebration of Top Of The Pops at its most godlike, gleefully veering off on such tangents as famous pianos we have played on, schoolkids in London being forced to watch The Third Ear Band, Saddam Hussein’s choice of Christmas chocolate, why Americans are so rubbish when it comes to Christmas #1’s, Levi Stubbs fails to get a good night’s sleep, and a brief chat about some film that the Beatles are in. TUCK IN, POP-CRAZED YOUNGSTERS – and treat yourself to some lovely festive swearing…   

Part One: Preamble

Part Two: Tony Blackburn, Noel Edmonds, Gary Glitter, Donny Osmond, Alice Cooper

Part Three: Lieutenant Pigeon, Roberta Flack, Slade, Benny Hill, Chicory Tip, Nilsson

Part Four: The Osmonds, Chuck Berry, T Rex, Ringo Starr

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Chart Music #62: November 3rd 1977 – WHOO! HEY!

The latest episode of the podcast which asks; if David picked potatoes on Jack Heap’s playing field for one hour, how many Fumanchews would he able to cram into his gaping maw?

Once again, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, Team Chart Music has returned to the safety of the late Seventies, and your panel is a) having their crayons thrown out of the window after an incident that could have been ripped from The Shining, b) being disappointed by Scalextric, and c) getting their arse tanned over an art installation on some concrete staircases. And all the time, the terror of Punk is looming, and no-one – particularly the canine population – is safe.

As it turns out, the only Punk-free zone at this time is the episode of The Pops we’re about to get stuck into. Like David’s Scalextric, the show – in Robin Nash’s safer-than-safe pair of hands – is running on rails by now. Unlike David’s Scalextric, everything fits together, and nothing is skidding off the table and smashing against the wall. This is Top Of The Pops in its purest form, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, and we savour every mouthful of it for over six hours.

Musicwise, it’s a veritable bestiary of Pop Gargantua, with Xmas on the way, some huge LP drops this week, and the Monsters of the Hit Parade already starting to fight over your forthcoming record token. Paul Weller makes a doomed attempt to get the BBC to post his guitar to his girlfriend. The Carpenters say hello to some aliens. The Barron Knights dare to have a pop at The Old Sailor. Freddie Mercury pitches up dressed like a bottle of Sheridan’s. Legs & Co hit up a sari shop in Shepherds Bush for a game of Sexy Lady Croquet. Status Quo predate Abba with an avatar bassist. Actual David Bowie pitches up to the studio, but can’t be bothered to button up his cuffs. Showaddywaddy have a group huddle. And Abba get down to a proper session of Scandinavian Sorry. All brought to you by Peter Powell in his debut TOTP appearance, and he immediately hits the ground running, even if he has to be nudged by the gallery into putting himself about with the maidens of the studio.

David Stubbs and Taylor Parkes join Al Needham for an intense drill into ’77, veering off on such tangents as the Great Dog Collar Crimewave of Coventry, why trying to crush a tennis ball on the school playground in order to impress girls is a wrong ‘un, NASA convincing aliens that British people are big Medieval jessies, the ELO-Faust War, Dave Lee Travis annoying Brian May, a review of Dave Bartram’s 2005 travelogue of caravan parks, Bruce Foxton stroke fiction, and the GOLDEN FLEECE OF CHART MUSIC has been located. Oh, the swearing in this one…  

Part One: Preamble

Part Two: Peter Powell, ELO, The Jam, The Carpenters

Part Three: The Barron Knights, Queen, Dorothy Moore, Status Quo

Part Four: David Bowie, Showaddywaddy, Abba, Smokie

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Chart Music #61: July 25th 2003 – The Arsethropocene

The latest episode of the podcast which asks; has Al ever been tossed off by a robot?

Yes, Pop-Crazed Youngsters; after putting it off for ages, it’s finally time for another rare excursion into The Most Rubbish Century We’ve Ever Lived Through. It’s 2003, and your panel is currently 1) Doing a Sex in the Daily Mirror, 2) Baiting David Blaine with a Whopper, and 3) getting their head together in Lancaster by burying their face into a load of dogs. Top Of The Pops, on the other hand, is faring less well; we are in the Poochie Era of TOTP.

Pulling down the kind of ratings that would have ill-befitted a repeat of Top Cat on a Tuesday afternoon in 1978, being absolutely kicked to buggery every Friday night by Gail Platt and Vera Duckworth, being stalked by CD:UK and Popworld, and being threatened with permanent exile to BBC3, it’s a grim, grim time for our fave weekly Pop treat.  But in this episode we finally get stuck into the tenure of Chris Cowey as Boss Of The Pops – an era which brought a shiny new studio, a spurning of videos and a modular, bolt-on, Ikea-like approach to scheduling which ensured that anyone who came remotely near the charts at the turn of the century has to pass through the TOTP studio.

Musicwise, it turns out that 2003 was possibly the last golden age of Pop, but this episode is a proper Lucky Bag of Randomness. Wayne Wonder is slight, and a bit rammel. Murderdolls have decided to employ a manky potato as their lead singer, who hairballs his way through White Wedding. D-Side get ambushed by the Mrs McClusky of reality shows. Super Furry Animals are dead good. Benny Benassi pitches up with some Oven Ready Women for some Ladisfaction. And Beyoncé crushes everything we’ve seen into dust with one mighty shake of her arse and the best single of this century. And possibly the next one.   

Sarah Bee and Simon Price join Al Needham for a through evisceration of 2003, veering off on such tangents as how to create half a johnny, people trying to be erotic with  lathes, the perils of running a club night in a venue owned by Sex Nazis, getting a love bite off The Strokes, James Brown’s opinions on fish supper accoutrements, Rock Star Death Fashion Shoots, and working with the Jimmy Savile Tweenie. Come for the discourse, stay for the swearing…

Part One: Preamble

Part Two: Chris Cowie, Liz Bonnin, Fearne Cotton, Wayne Wonder, Murderdolls

Part Three: D-Side, The Star Bar, Fame Academy, Super Furry Animals

Part Four: Benny Benassi, The Coral, Beyoncé,

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Chart Music #60: April 7th 1983 – We Need To Talk About Kevin Rowland

The latest episode of the podcast which asks; is the tie clip the least Rock accessory?

Remember the last Xmas episode? When 1983 revealed itself to be not as catshit as we thought it was? Well, in this episode your hosts – who at the time this episode went out were staring out of the window at the glorious panorama of Barry, writing plays about Jesus getting The Chair and electing to have a Tefal Man haircut, respectively – have a tentative sniff of a regular episode from that year, and what unfolded knocked us bandy. No word of a lie, Pop-Crazed Youngsters; this is possibly, pound-for-pound, the best episode of The Pops we’ve encountered so far. If you’ve come here for the coat-downs, you’re going to be massively disappointed.

Musicwise, Phwoorrrr. Simon Bates and Peter Powell are joined by the actual Kids From Fame, who have taken time out from smashing up dressing rooms and screaming at each other to stand there in the TOTP studio for some severe cross-platform brand synergisation. Dexys make their first appearance on Chart Music. Culture Club hijack a plane. Some Zoo Wankers dressed as the Bisto Kids get in the way of JoBoxers. Dee Snyder electrifies tomorrow morning’s playground and upsets your Dad. Tracie, the Everygirl of 1983, puts on her white shoes. Lots of Scottish people wear Millets shirts. And Nick Heyward remembers to mime.

Simon Price and Neil Kulkarni join Al Needham around the arse of 1983 and proceed to give it a severe tonguing, breaking off to discuss such matters as record shops adopting vagrants, more details about Simon chancing across Ian Asbury getting his Wolfchild out in a Birmingham car park, the Tracey Invasion of the UK, breaking up inter-school gang wars through the power of Darnce, and an outstanding lie about sharks. And swearing!

Part One: Preamble

Part Two: Simon Bates, Peter Powell, Dexys Midnight Runners, Culture Club

Part Three: JoBoxers, Twisted Sister, Michael Jackson, Tracie

Part Four: FR David, Nick Heyward, David Bowie, Big Country

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Chart Music #59: July 3rd 1986 – It’s ‘Orrible Being A Slave Of War Orphan Farm

The latest episode of the podcast which asks; The Monkees as the cast of Monkey – who’s going to be Pigsy?

Jabbed up and preparing to throw itself back into the world (to the extent that they might go to that gig in Cheryl Baker’s back garden, depending on what the toilet facilities are like), Team ATVland reunite for a massive trawl through an episode of The Pops from the long, mediocre, pointy-headstocked, porn-frizzed, success-coated Summer of ’86. The World Cup hangover is still in full effect: so much so that the menfolk of Top Of The Pops appear to be too busy frothing at the mouth over Diego Maradona to attend, leaving Janice ‘All Night’ Long to mind the shop.

And what an episode it is! Sure, like every episode in this era, it’s strewn with cat shit – but what interesting, marbled, and bizarrely-shaped cat shit it is. The Housemartins demonstrate that they’re not actually made of Plasticine. Gary Numan plays a gig at Stringfellows with Serving Suggestion. Saucy Soaraway Sam has a go at being a Vixtress with a former member of The Clash. Claire Usher delivers the last of the Kiddiepop bangers. Bucks Fizz invent World Music. A genuine actual brilliant single pitches up, before Wham! go Splat! with a remake of Parisienne Walkways set in Megas Wine Bar, Birmingham. And a presenter made out of fibreglass who isn’t Simon Bates pitches up.

Neil Kulkarni and Taylor Parkes join Al Needham for an intensive scowl across the landscape of the Fun Pub of 1986, veering off on such tangents as Mork’s body odour, the unbelievable grimness of British girls’ comics, being recognised in Scandinavia, the decline of Cheesy Wotsits, why Tommy Steele cried at his own party, and an intensive tutorial on the correct way to Tie Off. An obscene amount of swearing on this one, and too much appalling singing from Al.

Part One: Preamble

Part Two: Janice Long, The Housemartins, Gary Numan

Part Three: Samantha Fox, Claire and Friends, Bucks Fizz

Part Four: Sly Fox, Wham!, Max Headroom and The Art Of Noise

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Chart Music #58: October 23rd 1980 – Top Of The Gear

The latest episode of the podcast which asks: has anyone really ever done that to someone else’s nostrils? Come on, now!

Neither willing to go out and pissed off with staying in, your favourite podcast about old episodes of Top Of The Pops elects to bury its head once more into the comforting bosom of the Eighventies, so come and join us, Pop-Crazed Youngsters – it’s a many-teated beast.

This particular episode of The Pops sees our Thursday-evening treat still enclagged with the amorphous goo off the chrysalis it emerged from after the Musicians Union strike of the summer. They’ve had celebrity guests, a news section, two interviews with The Old Sailor and a wedding announcement from Dollar, but this week they’ve gone too far: they’ve done a tie-in with the 1980 Motor Show and filled the studio with cars that no-one can actually see and none of the audience gives the slightest fleck of a toss about. And oh dear; the combination of the smell of new car and the sight of bored-looking women in Talbot t-shirts standing about brings on predictable changes in our host, clad in a racing driver one-piece with the zip slung low: The Living Gnasher Badge…

Musicwise, it’s cast-iron proof that 1980 really was the Ken of the Eighventies. Quo tap their noses at us as they lumber into the new decade. The Nolans get ready to rip through Japan like a four-headed Kay’s Catalogue Godzilla. Andy McCluskey gets given a bass in a doomed attempt to put him off his dancing. Poor Legs & Co get stared at by blokes in cars, like a Disco version of Never Go With Strangers. The Number One is more adult-orientated rammel. And DLT goes full-on PLP with Elkie Brooks.

Rock Expert David Stubbs and Taylor Parkes join Al Needham for a leaf through the Exchange and Mart of Pop, swooping off on such tangents as how rubbish it’s going to be when we come out of lockdown, how unprepared your local market was for the onset of New Romantic, Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Erotic Meat Buffet, Eighties synth-duo intermarriage, and SCREW YOU, JOANNE GREENWOOD FROM CLASS 4A.

(Swearing)

Part One: Preamble

Part Two: Dave Lee Travis, Status Quo, The Nolans

Part Three: Gilbert O’Sullivan, Kelly Marie, Air Supply, Kate Bush

Part Four: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Ottawan, Barbra Streisand, Coffee

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Chart Music #57: October 11th 1973 – A Balloon Full Of Gravy

The latest episode of the podcast which asks: would you let your daughter marry this episode of Top Of The Pops?

It’s the first episode of the year, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, so the ever-forward-looking Chart Music throws itself all the way back to the glorious year of ’73, where the hair grows wild and free, Bacofoil androgyny is at its peak, Look-In can operate as a dating service and no-one bats an eyelid, and – to quote Karen, aged 12 from Formby, The Colour Brown Is All Around.

And yet! All is not well in Top Of The Popsland. They’ve just come off their 500th episode and suffered a double-shoeing from the so-called Mainstream Media for a) encouraging ten year-old girls to get pregnant and b) being full of rubbish songs where you can’t make out what they’re saying performed by men who look like women and God help us if there’s a war. So how do they react? By wringing the last droplets out of Kenny Everett before he defects to Capital Radio and bunging on something for the Old’Uns inbetween the good stuff.

Musicwise, it’s a proper bag of Tiger Tots, with a few cubes of Oxo bunged in. David Cassidy gets his straw boater on. Slade finally – and fatally – learn how to spell properly. Elton John arses about with some oranges on Hollywood and Vine. Pans People transmogrify into five sexy Steve Austins. There’s a lad off Opportunity Knocks who isn’t Neil Reid. Jeff Lynne goes all UberTravis. Leicester Man is unveiled to a bemused audience. And the Top Of The Pops Orchestra earn some beer money on the side.

Simon Price and Neil Kulkarni – Jesus and Buzz themselves – get down to ’73 with Al Needham, breaking off on such tangents as fending off Brexity Oasis Bots, listening in silent awe to the sound of a soul legend’s toilet activities, Concerned Parent of Exeter, the art of making tapes for girls, and the glorious resurfacing of a 27 year-old demo tape about Eastenders. Swearing a-plenty!       

Part One: Preamble

Part Two: Kenny Everett, David Cassidy, ELO, Elton John

Part Three: Michael Ward, Status Quo, The Detroit Spinners, Engelbert Humperdinck

Part Four: Slade, Limmie & Family Cookin’, The Simon Park Orchestra, Ike & Tina Turner

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Chart Music #56: December 25th 1983 – Oh Dear!! A Bat Bit You

The latest episode of the podcast which asks: why do we always leave the end-of-year episodes to the actual end of the year?

Warning: if you listen to this episode, your ears will be breaking the Rule Of Six, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself, because Al has decided to throw a New Years party with all manner of special guests who will be dropping in, sitting by the fire, contemplating the meaning of the season, and – most importantly –picking at a Christmas Day episode of Top Of The Pops like a child picks at the scab on its knee.

And what an episode it is! We’re at the tail-end of 1983, a year Chart Music has deemed the beginning of the decline of New Pop, but on further examination turns out to be much better than we’d realised. The accounts department of Radio One – Gripper Peebles, Twankey Smith, Pigwanker General and ‘All Night’ Long – are in full effect, the Zoo Wankers are kept on a leash, and we are assailed by wave after wave after wave after wave of the top rank of ’83.

Musicwise, thwap! It’s bangers and monsters all the way. Freeez drop the summer hit of the year. Michael Jackson reveals a hitherto-undiscovered love of Billy Britain and SWANT. We discover that just when you think you’ve got the measure of Shakin’ Stevens, he reveals new and unchartered depths as he jumps upon and seizes the white heat of Technology. Men At Work batter us with Australiana. Bonnie Tyler runs into a mirror. Miss Lennox glares at the classroom. Some American woman runs about a lot. Adam Ant begins to fade away. The Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boys of Quality Street look upward. Bucks Fizz give Larry The Lamb a go at lead vocals. The Lionel King puts on his best Jafakan accent. Carol Kenyon makes your dad drop his Satsuma. Bowie launches a nuclear attack on Sydney. Billy Joel looks at your big end and shakes his head. Death joins in on a Yazoo cover. And Jahwaddywaddy pinch out a loaf of Breggae.

The entire Chart Music team – Sarah Bee, Neil Kulkarni, Al Needham, Taylor Parkes, Simon Price and David Stubbs  – link up for our longest episode ever, veering off to discuss ghosts appearing on sex tapes, a righteous loathing of the Big Light, satanic kangaroos, the contents of UB40’s fridge, Simon Bates partying down with The Green Goddess and Stu Francis, and – finally – the comprehensive review of Comrade Shaky’s Sinclair Spectrum game that the podcast world has been crying out for. Happy New Swearing!   

Part One: Preamble

Part Two: Freeez, Michael Jackson, Shakin’ Stevens

Part Three: Men At Work, Bonnie Tyler, Eurythmics, Irene Cara

Part Four: Adam Ant, Duran Duran, Bucks Fizz, Lionel Richie, Heaven 17

Part Five: David Bowie, UB40, Billy Joel. Flying Pickets, KC & The Sunshine Band

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