Chart Music #48: January 24th 1980 – Imagine If Charles Manson Had Seen This


The latest episode of the podcast which asks: Matchbox – big elderly Ted-racists, or just really keen on The Dukes Of Hazzard?

It’s a long-overdue return to the Pic n’ Mix counter of TOTP, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, and this time we’ve pulled out a plum from the early days of the new decade, which is now FORTY BASTARD YEARS AGO. Mike Read has been quarantined to the balcony, resplendent in a clankening of badges, and he is poised to drop an episode shot through with Eighventies goodness.

Musicwise, well: Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes mark time before going off to be Stunt Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman. The Nolans drop the Staying Alive of Mum-Disco.  Legs and Co have a bit of a float-around to the last knockings of Beardo Disco. Bob Geldof looks like Richard E Grant playing Rambo. Suzi Quatro has a whinge about her Walter the Softy-like boyfriend. David Van Day shoots John Lennon in the back a full eleven months before Mark Chapman gets the chance. The Specials con you into thinking every gig you’re going to go to when you grow up is going to be an incredible experience.  Sheila and B Devotion (and more importantly, Chic) kick in the afterburners, and we get the First New Number One Of The Eighties.

Simon Price and Taylor Parkes join Al Needham for a comprehensive dismantling of early ’80, veering off on such tangents as Space Oppression, DAAANGERFREAKS, caravan warehouse-owning lions, The Great Jumpsuit Shortage, another examination of I’m Your Number One Fan, Nazi double basses, and Colleen Nolan’s unfortunate teenage crush. ALL THE SWEARING.

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Chart Music #47: 25th December 1977 – The Last Supper Of Showaddywaddy


A sort-of-festive episode of the podcast which asks: Jesus, why do we always leave this to the last minute instead of doing it in August like everyone else?

It’s the arse-end of the year, and you know what that means, Pop-Crazed Youngsters: another ram of our hands into the Quality Street tin of a Xmas TOTP. This year, it’s 1977, which means that Noel Edmonds has taken one of his suits that all look the same out of the wardrobe – but this year he’s joined by Kid Jensen, in full Stylistics clobber. No trifle-related interplay this year, then, but it’s quadruple overtime for the Top Of The Pops Orchestra, who have stashed a dozen or so Party Sevens under their chairs to keep them going, and Team ATVland (combined age: 19) are sulking that they can’t hook their Binatone Pong to the telly, mornging that their Ricochet Racers isn’t much cop, and leafing through the 1978 Starsky and Hutch annual and dreaming of chocolate pancakes respectively.

There were some astonishing singles that came out in ’77, but musicwise, and bar a couple of exceptions, this is your Nana’s Top Of The Pops. Showaddywaddy pretend to have a futuristic buffet. Some kids are bussed into White City to wave a tassel on a stick (or just the stick). David Soul’s head floats in space. Johnny Mathis pops up again. You can hear Kenny Rogers’ arse as he lowers it onto a wicker bar stool. And oh God, it’s Manhattan Transfer. But here come Abba, Space, Denice Williams, Hot Chocolate, and the return of Floyd Flipper as a fruity Santa! Oh, and there’s Paul McCartney’s Living Shortbread Tin and Bing Crosby. It’s a massive, sixteen-song evisceration, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, done with the care and attention you’ve come to expect from the little elves of Chart Music.

Neil Kulkarni and Taylor Parkes join Al Needham for a long, hard stare at the winners circle of 1977, complete with such tangents as the Showaddywaddy Hanky Code, Lobbing It Out on Channel 4, assuming French is just English you don’t know yet, the gang war between Brighouse and Rastrick, Space Crumpet, when it’s time to finally let go of the Radio Times Xmas issue, and a chance to see someone from Chart Music looking like a massive potato on telly very soon. Merry Swearing!

Part 1: Preamble

Part 2: Showaddywaddy, Deniece Williams, Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Old Sailor

Part 3: Manhattan Transfer, Hot Chocolate, David Soul, Abba, Space, Johnny Mathis

Part 4: Stevie Wonder, Kenny Rogers, Baccara, Wings, Bing Crosby

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Chart Music #46: 17th December 1987 – Mission Accomplished, Agent King Cole


The latest episode of the podcast which asks: why didn’t they let Simon Bates do Top Of The Pops USA, just for a laugh?

We’re out of the Critics’ Choice series, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, so it’s time to grasp the fly-encrusted and whiffy end of the Eighties Stick. It’s a Thursday evening one week before Xmas in 1987, and your panel are a) in a Soho pub, chucking their musical-journalistic weight about, b) trapped in a bingo hall in Nottingham being handled like a piece of meat by randy octogenarians, and c) sprawled out on a rug in Yorkshire, with a garter snake wrapped around their glasses, waiting to be dazzled by the life-affirming beauty of Pop. Two of these people made the right choice that night.

Musicwise, this is a heavily adulterated, gelled-up, suity, unwiped arse of an episode, with only a couple of standouts. Mike Read and Gary Davies pretend to be mates. Wet Wet Wet attempt to do True and fail. Mel Smith’s attempt to encourage kids to hide in fridges is denied by the BBC. Mick Hucknall – leader of the Kennyist band in Pop – reminds us he can sing a bit. Nat King Cole cock-blocks Rick Astley. We finally get to see a bit of Top Of The Pops USA. And Kirsty and Shane and Neil and Chris ride in to save the day. None of these people are The Young Gods.

David Stubbs and Sarah Bee join Al Needham for a rummage through the Quality Street tin of Xmas 1987, and – as always – the detours and tangents are manifold, including what it was like to work at Melody Maker in the Laties, how to buy a shark in Yorkshire, the lack of a decent wine cellar at Dingwalls, the pointlessness of CD Walkmans, the annual F-word debate, how Marti Pellow ruined Stars In Their Eyes, and an open apology to the Pogues for a 33 year-old LP review. Now available in Fun-sized portions, and full of rich, chunky swearing.

Part 1: Preamble

Part 2: Wet Wet Wet, Mel (Smith) & Kim (Wilde), Simply Red

Part 3: The Pogues & Kirsty McColl, Level 42, Nat King Cole

Part 4: Belinda Carlisle, Pet Shop Boys, Madonna

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Chart Music #45: August 2nd 1979 – Treat Dad To Joan Collins For Xmas


The latest episode of the podcast which asks: who would win in a stage-show spaceship fight between Earth Wind and Fire, ELO and Funkadelic?

It’s the final furlong of the Critics’ Choice series, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, and Our Simon has dragged us back to the dawn of the Eighventies and pulled out a ridiculously bountiful episode with so much to talk about, making this our BIGGEST EPISODE EVER. It’s the middle of the Summer Holiday Of Our Extreme Content, your panel have spent their downtime crying tears of laughter at the sight of nudists in supermarkets on telly, avoiding the Punk House, and having a break from the draconian private school system respectively, but are all clustered around the telly to see what Peter Powell has up his sleeve this Thursday eve, only to discover that he’s not wearing any.

But so what? Because musicwise, this could well be the greatest episode of TOTP we’ve come across so far, and a solid case for ’79 being even better than ’81. The Dooleys are gotten out of the way early doors. Sham 69 have their end-of-term party. Olympic Runners get mithered by Some Bird. The weediest-looking lead singer in Pop history sings with his teeth. There’s an actual naked woman playing a cello in a massive pram. Abba slap it about in a disco. Ron Mael stares at us. Legs & Co have a sultry mornge on some sand. And we see the debut performances of The Specials and BA Cunterson.

Simon Price and Neil Kulkarni join Al Needham as they just switch off their television set and go and do something less boring instead, veering off on such tangents as pulling your trackie bottoms up around your neck and running at girls, integrity-free reviewing jobs, your chance to have your achievements in the Welsh music scene recognised at last, wearing the wrong-coloured laces in your Docs, having a wazz on a Pop star’s back door, and Exciting News For All Listeners. Swearing!

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Chart Music #44: November 8th 1984 – Yo! Bum Rush The Quo


The latest episode of the podcast which asks: is Simon Bates negging or cock-blocking?

Into the penultimate stretch of the Critics’ Choice series, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, and Our Sarah has taken us all the way back to the time when her keen Pop sensibilities were hauling itself upright from the ooze. And she. Has. Chosen. Well.

We’re weeks away from Band Aid and the Eighties are already starting to ming of unwashed cock, but this episode – presented LIVE IN THE STUDIO by Geoffrey and Pigwanker General – is nowhere near as horrific as it could have been, even though there’s some right catshit strewn about. Limahl has the last laugh, and is never heard of again. Status Quo are taken to the tip by the Council. Billy Ocean and Eugene Wilde give us a remake of Billie Jean and Sexual Shakin’. Gary Numan’s weave makes its TOTP debut. But we get to see Depeche Mode’s career turn on a sixpence while they bang on some hunks of concrete, and we get the best Number One of the year that doesn’t involve Frankie.

Sarah Bee and Taylor Parkes join Al Needham for a critical piss that streams out the bottom of the trouser leg of 1984, veering off on such tangents as the uselessness of Godzooky, Eighties Video Cliche Watch, Numanoid laundry problems, Gary Davies Sex Music, BanterGod, and Heads-Down, No-Nonsense Masturbation. Oh, the swearing!


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Chart Music #43: March 6th 1969 – Ah-Ha-Ha-Ha!


The latest episode of the podcast which asks: Why didn’t NASA do something for the old ‘uns?

It’s the mid-point of our Critics Choice series, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, and this time Our Taylor has taken us back – way back – to the spring of 1969, when two-thirds of Team ATVland weren’t even thought of and the third was imprisoned in a cage made out of pallets, with all nails sticking out.

Musicwise, well: we are 301 days from the end of this decade – the greatest decade in history, mark you – and Top Of The Pops has failed to paint it black. Many things happen in this year, but mainly in America, and this episode is rammeth with Beat groups on their last legs, all expertly dealt with by the voice of Brentford Nylons. Dave Dee, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub celebrate ritual animal abuse. Love Affair awkwardly wink at the camera as the sand runs out on their career. Lulu swings an imaginary beer stein frothing with Schlager as she makes her bid for Eurovision glory. The Tymes do something really impressive at the end of their song. The Bee Gees stop bitching at each other long enough to curl off another dud single. Stevie Wonder drops one of the all-time great TOTP performances. And Jesus in a jumpsuit, the state of the Number One.

Taylor Parkes and Neil Kulkarni join Al Needham on the barren, grey surface of Top Of The Pops in the Sixventies, pausing from their exploration to discuss Jon Pertwee’s conversion to Rock, the G-Clamp Tree, Geoff Sex, Right-Wing Swingers, ridiculously blunt LP reviews, and Dick Emery getting preferential treatment over Moby Grape. The swearing is heavy, and progressive.

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Chart Music #42: August 27th 1981 – Non-Stop Erotic Kattomeat


The latest episode of the podcast which asks: What’s more important, the Taint or the Love?

Part Two of our Critics’ Choice series, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, and Our Neil has dragged us back to the idyllic summer of 1981, where the panel were a) replaying the 1970 World Cup with Subbuteo, b) wearing burgundy and c) playing The Omen in our bedroom respectively. And good Lord, what an episode he’s picked!

Musicwise, it’s a ridiculous mix of soaring highs and plunging lows, where the new era of synthiness forces the old guard to shed their facial hair, pare back on the widdliness and learn to rollerskate. Marc Almond throws the sunglasses to one side and delivers one of the landmark TOTP performances. Some Dads pretend to be the Bee Gees. Midge Ure comes on all Peaky Blinders. The Rolling Stones have a glorious piss-about. Cliff gets wanged across a shopping centre in Milton Keynes for some Danger Skating. Legs & Co are shackled to ELO again. And the Number One is, er, a Futurist pan-Asian classic.

Neil Kulkarni and Simon Price examine the potato bag of ’81 for signs of blight with Al Needham, veering off on such tangents as playing football with Action Men, the star power of Stan Stennett, The Rumour, The Oriental Riff, The Pickwick Top Of The Pops compilations, Specials cover versions at Butlins, and Manslaughter On 45. There’s swearing. But you knew that anyway.


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Chart Music #41: August 26th 1976 – From Acker Bilk To Chlamydia In Two Minutes


The latest episode of the podcast which asks: can you remember a wazz you had 43 years ago?

This episode, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, is the beginning of a five-part mini-series where members of Team Chart Music run a finger along our TOTP collection and select one of their favourites – and Our David has kicked it off by pulling out an absolute plum from the very end of the Drought. Your panel were killing time during the summer holidays sitting in hot cars, playing Shove Matchbox, or trying to be the Lord Killinan of the ladybirds, but over in the BBC TV Centre, Noel Edmonds has graciously taken time out from getting ready for Swap Shop (and presumably counting the excrement passing through the piping system) to deluge us all with another massive dollop of brightly-coloured Pop gunge.

Musicwise, it’s a mainly above-par serving of the usual mid-70s melange: Manfred Mann turn up the knob on their synth. The Bee Gees lob a glitterball through the window of the charts. Robin Sarstedt – the Lothario of the Tea Dance – pitches up one more time. The Stylistics stand in a park on Dress-Down Friday. Gallagher and Lyle do something. The Chi-Lites are accompanied by a non-racist cartoon. OH MY GOD IS THAT CAN. And most importantly, we finally get round to Ruby Flipper, the dance troupe that actually featured men and – gasp! non-white people.

David Stubbs and Taylor Parkes join Al Needham for a lick of the Lolly Gobble Choc Bomb of ’76, veering off on such tangents as belt shops in East London, mid-70s sexual health clinic procedures, Ian Hitler, the Brum Burger, Godzilla and Social Exclusion, and one of Chart Music being a retired male stripper. NOW WITH ADDED SEXUAL SWEAR WORDS WARNING!

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BONUS EPISODE available to all Pop-Crazed Patreon People


Finally, Neil Kulkarni and Sarah Bee end concealing, try revealing, and open their hearts to YOU, the Pop-Crazed Youngsters. Our lovely Patreon subscribers asked the questions – we answered them in detail for a couple of hours and a bit of exclusive content.

If you want to know about our fave music films, the great TOTP performances of all time, a ton music journo shop-talk, and in-depth analysis on the biggest nob-ends in Pop, what its like to conduct an interview in a German ambulance with someone who has just ripped their stomach open on stage, what it’s like to be a music journo in a bra, and a frank discussion about drugs and the state of the British crisp industry, some money needs to be trusted down our g-strings – but it’s available to all our Patreon tiers, meaning you can have all this goodness in your tabs for a mere dollar…


Chart Music #40: 4th April 1991 – You’ve Got To Earn Your Na Na Na Na


The 40th episode of the podcast which asks: so how do you get your pills out of a Kinder Surprise egg with opera gloves on?

This episode, Pop-Crazed Youngsters, takes us nearly ten years away from the glory of the last one and plunges us deep into the turquoise shell-suited heart of the Neighnties – and oh dear, our beloved programme is right up Arsehole Street. The ratings are dropping like a Shed Seven release in its second week, newer and savvier shows are undercutting it, and the BBC have pissed about with the scheduling to such an extent that middle-aged spods with a craving for Judith Hann are sitting there shouting; “Oh, what’s this bollocks? WHERE’S TOMORROW’S WORLD?”

Musicwise, hmm: Gary Davies, in a boxy denim jacked beloved of the era, just about manages to not look like he’s too old for this shit (despite dropping a few clunky Dad-phrases). Inspiral Carpets – the Freddie and the Dreamers of Madchester – pitch up, demonstrating the bad haircuts that were available to youths at the time. Saffron-not-yet-of-Republica dresses up like a magician’s assistant. The Mock Turtles do a mobile phone advert. The mid-Eighties refuses to piss off, in the shape of Feargal Sharkey, The Waterboys and Mike and the Mechanics. Still, there’s a welcome opportunity for people who haven’t got Sky yet to have a proper goz at The Simpsons, Black Box remind us that they did more than one record, and there’s some dead good angel wings on your woman in C&C Music Factory. Chesney Hawkes – ‘the iconic legend of the 80s and 90s’, according to his website, which is roughly 1.96666 decades too many – punches the air.

Sarah Bee and Simon Price link up with Al Needham at the car boot sale of 1991, veering off on such tangents as being refused entry to gay clubs by National Front activists, why you should never install a plastic tank in your wardrobe for pissing-into purposes, bragging at school that you’ve seen Sky at Centre Parcs, the phenomenon of Some Rap, and the misery of having to share a crappy Student Union with people who have been on Top Of The Pops more than you have. And there’s swearing.

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