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 #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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Chart Music #1: July 14th 1977 – Like Punk Hadn’t Really Happened Just Yet

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The debut of the podcast that takes a random episode of Top Of The Pops and breaks it down to its very last compound. It’s the Summer of ’77, and the Sex Pistols are finally allowed on. Will The Kids start gobbing on anyone onstage in flares? Will Legs & Co do the Pogo whilst dressed as giant swastikas? Will Kid Jensen point out that you have to destroy in order to create, and then tell the viewing audience to ‘Fuck Off’?

Strangely enough, no. Supertramp and Hot Chocolate defiantly sport the billowingist white flares ever seen on British television, the lead singer of Jigsaw models the latest styles from C&A’s ‘Mr Humphries’ collection, there’s some disturbing Ted-skipping in the audience, and Kenny Rogers comes back from Saudi Arabia. And Cilla Black’s on it.

Al Needham is joined by David Stubbs and Sarah Bee – two former Melody Maker journalists and all-round mint and skill writers – for a comprehensive blather about everything to do with this episode, amongst other things. It’s a first go, so it may be is a bit rough-arse in places, but – as a wise man once said – ‘We Don’t CAAAAAARRRRRRRRE.’

(and there’s swearing)

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