Chart Music #19: June 15th 1989 – Remember Double Trouble’s Shirts? They Were Really Stylish

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The latest episode of the podcast which asks: what’s the difference between a Cartoon Time and a Cartoon Club?

This episode, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, sees the world’s No.1 authority on old episodes of a long-gone pop show casting its eyes and ears toward the summer of ’89 – but if you’re expecting to see some Acid House tomfoolery or a full-on Madchester takeover, you’re going to be massively disappointed: the only Acieeed references are on Sinitta’s ears, and the only Manc in attendance is, er, Simon Parkin, who’s been let out of the Broom Cupboard for his TOTP debut. And he looks like he’s shitting himself throughout.

Still, this episode is a definite sign that things are getting better, as long as you avoid looking at the appalling shirts that men chose to wear in that era: Brit-Hop pitches up in the shape of the Rebel MC. REM finally escape from Student Discoland into our hearts and charts. Fuzzbox get all saucy with a massive pin . And Stock Aitken and Waterman finally admit defeat with the worst No.1 of the year that didn’t involve a grown man in a rabbit costume.

Al Needham is joined by Sarah Bee and Neil Kulkarni for a ram of the critical arm up the cow’s arse of ’89, veering off to discuss being coated down by middle-aged Crusties, Mams who go into town wearing your favourite band t-shirts, suitable replacements for Africa pendants if you happen to be white and don’t want to get battered, being stared at by Cyndi Lauper, and the disgusting lack of train etiquette displayed by second division pop stars. And – of course – all the swearing you could possibly need.

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Chart Music #18: April 29th 1976 – Dave Lee Travis Stamping On A Human Face, Forever

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The latest episode of the podcast which asks: what, him out of Brotherhood Of Man with the ‘tache? How old? Fucking hell!

After an extended hiatus, the greatest podcast in the world about old episodes of Top Of The Pops roars back with its usual melange of incisive music criticism, flare-baiting, dodgy microphones and the language of the billiard hall. This episode, we’re on the cusp of The Great Drought, and Tony Blackburn is on hand, bearing the gormlessly smiley visage of a man who knows he’s going to be giving his next-door neighbour a seeing-to in a Kensington flat after the show is over.

Musicwise, this episode is pitted with British rubbishness, saved by the advent of Disco and the intervention of black America, who are repaid with comedy racism. Yes, Diana Ross and Gladys Knight drop two of the greatest tunes of the era, but we’re forced to listen to the Genuine Concerns of Paul Nicholas, an early appearance of Midge Ure trying to be James Dean, Racist Animal Disco, and the most hated lorry driver of the Seventies who wasn’t Peter Sutcliffe. Oh, and because it’s April 1976, you already know what the No.1 is. On the upside, we get two appearances by Pans People. On the downside, it’s because this is the week they are made redundant, marking the very end of TOTP’s Golden Age.

Taylor Parkes and Simon Price join Al Needham for a rummage through the skip of mid-70s Pop, breaking off to discuss if you can actually wring any kind of enjoyment out of 70s grot films, Monk Rock, the futility of CB radio, the lack of Birmingham accents in Pop, having your 8th birthday ruined by Manchester United, passing out in a lion suit, and some quality swearing.

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Chart Music #17: December 25th 1973 – The Old Songs Are The Best

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A moderately special episode of the podcast which asks: so what did Tony Orlando do to get banged up for three years, then?

This episode, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, is a massively-flared, clompy-heeled, zebra-printed celebration of one of the greatest traditions of any British Christmas Day: the opportunity to force the rest of your extended family to sit through an end-of year episode of The Pops and revel in the torrent of tutting coming out of your Nana’s mouth as she works their way through the Quality Street. Fourteen chart-toppers from The Most Seventies Year Ever are trotted out, from a time when the Number One single was either astoundingly brilliant or absolute cat shit.

Your hosts – Tony Blackburn and Noel Edmonds – really get into the Christmas spirit by shoving tree branches up each other’s arses and donning massive Lenny Kravitz-style scarves of tinsel as wave after wave of alternate Glam nirvana and easy-listening rubbishness floods the screen. On the downside, Donny Osmond spends Christmas alone, David Cassidy has a big sulk around Kew Gardens and we discover that Santa is actually an obnoxious American child with big teeth, but Dave Hill mutates into a Chicken Angel! Roy Wood plays a vacuum cleaner! Steve Priest radges up the grandparents of Britain in a sexy Nazi Bismark rig-out as Andy Scott whips out his third leg! And some dog-flouncing-off action!

David Stubbs and Taylor Parkes join Al Needham for a gleeful ripping-down of the gaudy paper chains of 1973, veering off to discuss Jody Scheckter Racing, the infinite superiority of the Beano Book over the Dandy annual, grandparental fantasies about Roy Wood being made to peel potatoes, Opportunity Knocks winners who were massive racists, what breaks Donny Osmond’s heart, a flick through the Music Star Annual 1974, being sang at by an entire factory when you’ve had an over-long shit, and so much more, with swearing.

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Chart Music #16: December 22nd 1983 – Hold On, Here Comes Jism

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The latest edition of the podcast which asks: if the Thompson Twins made you a sandwich, would you want to eat it?

It’s Christmas Time, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, but there’s no need to be afraid – because we’re a full year away from any Band Aid rubbishness. It’s the last episode of The Pops before Xmas of 1983, and the studio is festooned with balloons and party hats, making it just like every other episode that year. And what a line-up (sneered at by John Peel and jollied along by Kid Jensen) it isn’t!

Musicwise, this is the mankiest Selection Box of teeth-loosening dessicated cat shit we’ve come across in a long while. Out go the Synth-mentalists of a few years ago, and in come in bare-footed, frizz-haired Serious Musicians. Terry and Arfur pop up to flog one of the crappiest Christmas songs ever, a Breakfast TV puppet with johnnies for ears defiles hip-hop, and Paul McCartney has a war with himself. On the plus side, Billy Joel goes back 20 years to leer at some girls having a pyjama party, Slade go back ten years and ignore a couple of Zoo Wankers, and Culture Club put a full orchestra in serious danger.  And the No.1 is properly right-on.

Neil Kulkarni and Simon Price join Al Needham for this one, and have a good stare through the window of late 1983 like Dickensian urchins, breaking off to discuss such important matters as sex education videos of the 80s, running into Mrs McCluskey in a charity shop, asking lead singers how to get to Wales while they’re nobbing someone up against a tour bus, and the curse of Sta-Prest Fanny. With all the swearing you could ever want.

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Chart Music #15: September 4th 1980 – BA Robertson’s Hairdresser Thinks It’s Fantastic

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The latest edition of the podcast which asks: what is the least Mod Dungeons & Dragons character?

This episode, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, has been cursed by the tang of man-flu and dodgy microphones, meaning it’s not at the usual hi-fidelity standard you’ve come to expect from Chart Music. But what an incident-packed go-around on the morbid carousel of Pop it is! There’s wave after wave of guest appearances from people who really shouldn’t have bothered, such as Cliff, his specky henchman Hank Marvin, and none other than co-host KEGGY KEEGLE HIMSELF facing down DLT in a perm-off.

Thanks to Simon getting an unexpected birthday present, we have possession of a full shooting script of an episode from The Popses’ post-strike regeneration, and we try to break the codes therein. Musicwise, the Mod revival rides itself right off the cliff, Kelly Marie and Sheena Easton put on their best Bingo Jumpsuits, Cliff does his Danger Dancing routine next to a keyboard player in Alan Partridge shorts, Randy Crawford’s heartbreakingly brilliant performance is ruined by a vision mixer who makes her look like the alien off Alien, and Nicholas Lyndhurst, Martin Shaw and Dennis Waterman rule over the charts.

Al Needham is joined by Simon Price and David Stubbs for a good hard leer at the autumn of 1980, veering off – as always – on tangents such as trying to be a 12 year-old Ace Face when everyone’s seen your Dad drag you out of a boating lake at Skegness Butlins, why adding the Poo-Poo drum machine over Joy Division records in clubs will never get old, having a good laugh at younger brothers who get beaten up in town for wearing the wrong badges, pathological hatred of Plastic Mods, and flares. And swearing, swearing, all the time swearing.

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Chart Music #14: September 24th 1987 – A Grey and Pink-Flecked Gelled-Up Nightmare

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The latest episode of the podcast which asks: how bad would your war have to get before you start thinking of calling up Johnny Hates Jazz?

This episode, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, sees the Chart Music gang trapped on the wrong side of Eightiestown, surrounded by a faceless herd of blandos in shitty suits with the sleeves rolled up, goaded into action by a wizened Don mincing about on top of a balcony. Bottom line: this episode of TOTP is absolute cat shit.

Because it’s co-presented by Mike Smith, who refused to have anything to do with Top Of The Pops after he left the show, you can rest assured that The BBC Won’t Show This when they get round to 1987 on their repeat run. And you’re not missing much, to be honest. Fucking Madonna Again gets all butch on a moving walkway in Turin, ABC turn into one of those bands of the era who want to be ABC in 1982, Jan Hammer looks extremely pleased with his brand new keytar, Mick Jagger holds children to ransom in an attempt to get his rubbish new single into the Top 40, and what the fuck is Gary Numan doing here?

Al Needham is joined by Taylor Parkes and Sarah Bee for a wince-inducing gaze into the open wound of the late Eighties, veering off on tangents including the CM verdict on Sounds Like Friday Night, how the hair gel of the era made it feel that you had a crusty tissue on your head, being forced to listen to Shakin’ Stevens on the school bus every day, discovering your def new high-tops are actually Bay City Rollers trainers, and more information on selling dirty knickers than anyone really needs. A colossal amount of swearing in this episode. Obviously.

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Chart Music #13: November 16th 1978 – The Demon Prince of the Third Division

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The thirteenth go-around of the podcast which asks: Showaddywaddy? Again? Really?

This episode, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, finally sees the good ship Chart Music sail way past the three-hour exclusion zone – but it can’t be helped, because the episode of Thursday Evening Pop Valhalla we dissect here is a classic.

Some of the big guns of the Seventies are pulled out, but are immediately bricked by snotty New Wave oiks in charity shop clothes, the foul spell of Revolting and Neutron-Bomb is banished forever, and Kid Jensen looks on from his Fortress of Solitude in approval and then asks some girls if they think he’s sexy. And they say ‘No’.

Musicwise, everything you’d expect from ’78 that isn’t caked in Grease is here. Freddie Mercury points out that he likes big butts and he cannot lie, Child pitch up in Brian Tilsley haircuts, Elton John looks like a droog suffering a mid-life crisis as Cathy McGowan sits at his feet, Elvis Costello calls Tony Blackburn a ‘silly man’ while pretending to take drugs, Debbie Harry stares at us unnervingly over a carrier bag, Heatwave drop an era-defining wedding song while dressed up as Turkish waiters, and the Boomtown Rats bring the Ted-Punk wars of the Kings Road into every playground in the country. And there’s Toast.

Al Needham is joined by Neil Kulkarni and Taylor Parkes for a rigorous examination of a classic episode of The Pops, veering off on tangents which include worrying about your Dad being got at by Peter Sutcliffe, cardboard cut-outs of Roy Race, the time when the BBC made you put stickers on your radio, and a discussion on Dean Friedman’s seduction technique that went on a lot longer than it really needed to. Swearing a-plenty!

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