Chart Music #67: June 9th 1977 – God Save Chart Music

The latest episode of the podcast which asks; are the Wurzels going to float in an eternal hellscape of bodily waste and toenails for singing about turning bulls gay?

This episode would have been perfect for the other month while Shakin’ Jubilee was occurring – but no matter, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, because we’re going right back to the apogee of the Silby Joobs, which no-one ever said in 1977 because people weren’t as rubbish as they are today. Flags! Bunting! Street parties! Massive patriotic Yorkshire puddings! Blatant chart-rigging! Your hosts are a) giving thousand-yard stares over some sausage rolls and praying that their father isn’t going to run off with a Characterful Dad in a dress and some balloons up their shirt, b) communing with nature with a Jubilee coin in their grubby paw and c) watching some Caledonian ultra-violence outside a pub and pretending to be asleep under a Union Jack listening to their Dad banging on about Elvis again, but they all unite on Thursday evening to witness Tony Blackburn – who has just invented Fathers 4 Justice – introduce a decidedly mixed bag of Pop treats.

Musicwise, it’s a veritable trifle of Pop, layered with West Midlands Safari Park Hi-Life, Ormskirk Americana, Southampton Funk, and a thick, satisfying custard of Black American Pop. Frankie Miller pulls a mic stand about. The Pips warm up for a night at the rollerdisco. The Stranglers piss about and stomp on someone’s fingers. Demis Roussos lies to us about an island. Neil Innes drags TOTP into 1982. Legs & Co have to make something up on the spot. Bob Marley celebrates Jubilee week by telling us that Britain is rammel and we should clear out as soon as possible. The Wurzels bring us another unflinching examination of rural life. And we get ‘treated’ to Little Rabbit Arse. But there’s an elephant in bondage trousers in the room, isn’t there?

Neil Kulkarni and Taylor Parkes join Al Needham for a gargantuan street party of critical analysis, with tangents ahoy – including a trawl through the Nationwide Jubilee Fair, 35 hours of Triangle, Demis Roussos’ £30,000 bed, Retirement Pop, the dark link between the Wurzels and the Radio 1 Roadshow, and cycling tips from Simon Bates’ massive floating head. If you’re a fan of the Monarchy, best skip the first hour – and yes, swearing a –plenty…

Part One: Preamble

Part Two: Tony Blackburn, Osibisa, ELO, Berni Flint, Frankie Miller

Part Three: The Wurzels, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Neil Innes, The Stranglers, Demis Roussos, Honky

Part Four: The Jacksons, Bob Marley and the Wailers, The Sex Pistols, Rod Stewart, ELP

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Chart Music #66: March 15th 1990 – De La Stoke

The latest episode of the podcast which asks; has anyone ever lost their virginity while listening to a Jive Bunny record?

It’s the long-awaited return of Our Sarah and Taylor after their encounter with the Spiteful Armoured Bollock, Pop-Crazed Youngsters – and to welcome them back, Al allowed them to pick out an episode. Consequently, we’re heading deep into the heart of the Neighties. Your panel are a) being Arthur Seaton in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning without the sex, b) hovering over the pause button during the Top 40, and c) playing Human Frogger on the way to a Blue Boar, while the music scene is awash with flares! Pob faces! That dance where you look like you’re walking on a bouncy castle with a pint in each hand! Ridiculously misplaced optimism! And BLEDDEH DRUGS, of course!

Musicwise, crikey: we’re promised a Rock n’ Roll episode by Simon Mayo, who looks absolutely shagged out having been up since 5am, but the overriding theme tonight is British people finally coming to terms with dance music whilst plundering as much of the late Sixties as possible. Wayne Hussey warms up for his date with James Whale with some Pub Goth. New Kids On The Block do something pointless and futile with a basketball. Candy Flip – the Jedward of Madchester – cause the Kids to hysterically scream as if John Lennon had ripped himself from the grave and turned up at the studio to have it out with them. The B-52s have a better night out than you. Big Fun, Fish and Wet Wet Wet get about 20 seconds each. Bobby Omnishake prances like an absolute tit, everyone whoops at an Inspiral Carpets suicide anthem, Jive Bunny throws down some hardcore Dad-Hop, Quentin fancies Lindy I.D.S.T., and we get some actual House music at the end. For about 30 seconds.

Sarah Bee and Taylor Parkes join Al Needham for a clinically intensive rummage through the Spring of 1990, veering off on such tangents as a comprehensive drill-down into Mike Read’s Heritage Chart, what not to do when cleaning out a Fleshlight, the Stone Roses/New Kids war in the Smash Hits letters page, Showaddywaddy’s Bloods/Crips dilemma, how the Martians wisely self-isolated and wore masks for a couple of years, and some remarkably graphic sex talk. And swearing!

Part One: Preamble

Part Two: Simon Mayo, The Mission, New Kids On The Block, Candy Flip

Part Three: The B-52’s, Big Fun, Fish, Wet Wet Wet, Primal Scream

Part Four: Inspiral Carpets, Jive Bunny, Beats International, 49ers

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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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