Pick of the Pops 25 (12.6.83)

I remember this time so vividly - I was off to work in France again.
A whole summer and a chunk of autumn spent in bucolic idyll - and four months away from this dreadful chart.

Shalamar - Dead Giveaway: I like Shalamar (Jody! Jeffrey! And er, Ken! Or something!), but this is half-arsed at best. It probably formed the template for Five Star. 4/10

H20 - I Dream to Sleep: it's almost a good record this one, but for every good line or phrasing ("Someone glimpsed across the dance floor" / "I've never been a silhouette before"), there's a really horrid one, particularly "They're going home and loving in doorways" - urgh! It was humiliating enough already having to shop in Ethel Austin, without having to slalom round the 'spent' prophylactics which littered the entrance to the store. If Billy Mackenzie had listened to Manhattan Transfer instead of David Bowie, he might have churned out this sort of stuff. 5/10

Ultravox - We Came to Dance: June 1983 - you tell someone - at length and in detail - how much you loved John Foxx's Ultravox, and how you have little time for the current, The Russ Abbott Show-does-synthpop re-imagining of 'your' beloved band. The next week she buys you a copy of 'She Came to Dance' as a surprise gift. You grimace for a microsecond, but then your simulacrum version of a 'thank you' smile convinces, and your world continues to function for another day or two. The record still lies, immaculate and untouched at the back of one your singles boxes, along with the Kevin Keegan single and some worthless, spoken word flexidiscs from the 70s. and 80s. You think about putting it on eBay, but the two or three quid it might raise is not worth anyone's time or money.
Though an atheist, you're still angry at the waste of God's resources that this slab of vinyl and paper represents, and how that young woman had to work for an hour and a half to earn the below-the-minimum wage money required to buy 'We Came to Dance'. A mixture of guilt, hatred and the fear of discovery (by the more militant, violent branches of the John Foxx society) haunt your dreams. Forever. 2/10

The Imposter and Elvis Costello - Pills and Soap: Elvis covers a Robert Wyatt song as a favour/tribute to Robert's beautiful version of one of the greatest political songs ever. It's OK, but it tries too hard. Some nice touches, though. 6/10

Shakatak - Dark is the Night: "It's getting pretty... dark," says the increasingly Partridgean Gambaccini as his intro to this song. I wonder how many licence fees it's cost to pay for his two hours of work this week?
"It's getting pretty... dark." If a ten year old kid had come up with this, you'd be embarrassed. Anyway, Shakatak - minor league disco jazz funk for the early 80s whose records sound samey, but don't beg for attention. Dark Is The Night is a typical Shakatak record. Rubbish, but not offensive, and the sort of thing you'd imagine Gary Davies dancing to in his heyday. 4/10

Elton John - I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues: I was shocked by how good the film 'Rocket Man' was - it's at least ten times the film the crappy, bowdlerised 'Bohemian Rhapsody' tried to be. This song is OK - I particularly like the simplicity of 'I simply love you - more than life itself'. And of course I spent 1983 - 2018 thinking the phrase 'Wait on me girl' was' weird army girl', which, let's face it, would have made for a far more interesting lyric. 7/10

Oh no - Elton's in the lead at the near halfway point!

Bob Marley - Buffalo Soldier: Boss. Phew! 8/10

Rod Stewart - Baby Jane: another week, another Raahd Stoo-wahrrt track from the 60-years-in-Britain, linguistically-assimilated Anglophile Gambaccini. Our neighbours in the little Herault village where I lived and worked used to play this at one o'clock on the dot every single day. Perhaps it was code; perhaps it masked the sounds of their afternoon passions. She looked like Bella Emberg and he looked like the actor who played Jackdaw, Grouty's bird feeder in Porridge, so I'm glad that they were so enthusiastic about the pretendy Tory Scotsman's fifth UK number one single. 4/10

Yazoo - Nobody's Diary: I love Alison and Vince, but this is rubbish*. A bad teenage poem with added electronic bells and whistles that seems to go on forever. 3/10

*"But how can you say that? It was the sound of my teenage years! How dare you mock Cheggers Plays Pop? You bastard!" (80s fans are the worst, by the way.)

Irene Cara - Flashdance: or Irene Carra as the 70-years-in-Britain, as English-as-shepherd's-pie Gambaccini would have it. This was called 'Je Suis Danceur' in France. And was shite. In French. 3/10

Wham - Bad Boys: I love George, but kinell! "I'm nineteen now and big enough to smash down that door!" What a knobhead! A piss-poor, farty fellow's version of The Stray Cats' genuinely excellent 'Runaway Boys' 2/10

David Bowie - China Girl: the quality of David's post-Scary Monsters 80s albums took a big nosedive. I still like them - obviously - but they get very limited playtime. His version of Iguana Population's China Girl is worth a yearly spin, but that's about it. 7/10

The Police - Every Breath You Take: there's no doubting that String's worldwide number one is a superbly-crafted pop song, but it was better once the listener worked out for itself that it wasn't a nice pop song, but a creepy bastard pop song - without String himself having to tell us. I reckon he didn't realise it until someone told him, and he pretended that the narrator is not String himself, but a 'persona'.

Why, of course it is, Gordon. 5/10

Programme as a whole: 4/10

Gambaccini: time to go 0/10

Best song: Bob

Worst: George

And remember: it's only pop music. Of course it is.

Click on the pic to hear Bob's song!