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.


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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Chart Music #55: December 23rd 1982 – Hygge Pop

The latest episode of the podcast which asks: why hasn’t London got a Revels World?

It’s getting to look a lot like Christmas, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, and you know what that means: the Nanas of the Kingdom start fiddling with their purses at the counter of HMV and encrust our beloved charts with the mung of novelty. We can’t lie: this episode of The Pops has been freshly squeezed from the very ringpiece of the cat, and no amount of live weather reports from Kid Jensen or the appearance of a little Mediterranean Santa can distract us from that.

Musicwise, oof: Lol Mason fiddles about with the watch pocket of his slacks. David Bowie – the Death Angel of 1977 – has a fiddle on Bing Crosby’s posh English cousin’s piano for an awkward chat about kids, before flouncing off to EMI. Incantation perform the Andean puffalong Knees Up Madre Brown. The Double-Denimed Defender of Heterosexual Rock n’ Roll makes his balcony speech. The Seventies officially die as Abba make their last stand for the benefit of Noel Edmonds. Then the Seventies rip themselves from the grave for this year’s Number One. And there’s Modern Romance. And Orville. And Zoo.

Neil Kulkarni and Rock Expert David Stubbs – the Dads of Chart Music – join Al Needham for a grim death-march into the dark side of 1982, breaking off on such tangents as being parodied on BBC sketch shows two decades ago, the revelation that teachers never gave a toss about you, what Shakin’ Stevens’ version of the Fool’s Gold loaf would be, how to feed your children with promo vinyl, why Imagination should have been denied trousers, and invite you to contemplate in your mind’s eye the image of your parents having sex to the sounds of Renee and Renato. Warning: the language is as Blue as Shaky’s Christmas.

Part 1: Preamble

Part 2: David Jensen, The Maisonettes, Bing Crosby & David Bowie

Part 3: Incantation, Shakin’ Stevens, Imagination, Abba

Part 4: Keith Harris & Orville, Renee & Renato, Modern Romance

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Chart Music #54: May 25th 1978 – Nineteen Seventy Gibb

The latest episode of the podcast which asks: would you go to see Panties at Canning Town Bridge House?

Unbelievably, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, this appears to be only the second time we’ve chanced across 1978 – which is a shameful way for a podcast about Top Of The Pops to act, because this year is rammed with cultural behemoths dominating the landscape, with the musk of all the things that Chart Music cherishes hanging thick in the air. We’re right on on the perineum ‘twixt Saturday Night Fever and Grease, Tony Blackburn has just slid into his Tony Manero outfit, and your panel are a) becoming massively disillusioned by school dinners, b) fancying Carol Chell, and c) drawing a picture of Hitler in a Mexico strip and getting ready to ice down his groin with some peas a week from now.

Musicwise, practically everything good – and bad – about ’78 is here. The Real Thing help Legs & Co recreate one of the scenes in The Stud that didn’t involve grubby pre-Eighventies Percy Filth. Jimmy Pursey says hello to Mum again. Yvonne Elliman and Tavares  keep the SNF end up. Legs & Co – on their second shift – look as if they’ve been caught short or have had a serious wardrobe malfunction. Debbie Harry’s face splits like a spaceship door. Heatwave take jumper technology to the next level. ITV Quisling Cilla has a go at Disco. James Galway makes his first appearance since being run over by a motorbike in Switzerland. Ian Dury becomes the nation’s favourite Hard Bastard Uncle. The Scotland World Cup Squad have to sing around a disembodied cardboard cut-out of Rod Stewart. And the UK’s seventh biggest-selling single ever is Number One.

Team ATVLand – Taylor Parkes and Neil Kulkarni – help Al Needham fill out the wallchart of late May 1978, veering off on such tangents as the thought of Dave Bartram of Showaddywaddy giving Joan Collins one in a lift, a forensic examination of the 1978 Eurovision Song Contest, urban myths about Melody Maker editors being whipped by chains, an inter-Journo fight over who liked Dexys Midnight Runners more, and – finally – the recasting of Prisoner: Cell Block H that the Pop-Crazed Youngsters have been crying out for. OVER SIX HOURS, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, and rest assured that a considerable amount of that involves both Effing and Geoffing…

Part 1: Preamble

Part 2: Tony Blackburn, Yvonne Elliman, The Real Thing, Blondie, Heatwave

Part 3: Izhar Cohen & AlphaBeta, James Galway, Thin Lizzy, Tavares, Black Sabbath

Part 4: John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John, Ian Dury & The Blockheads, Cilla Black, Sham 69, Boney M, Rod Stewart & the Scotland World Cup Squad

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