Pick of the Pops 35 (21.8.82)

Right - I'm all up to date.

Falklands War,
'Falklands factor';
Evil blooms -
And the spawn of Thatcher.

Duran Duran - Save a Prayer
The spawn of Thatcher. Greed is good - and so is conspicuous consumption. Like punk never happened. Quite a pleasant noise, but F-me - those lyrics:

Pretty looking road I try to hold the rising floods that fill my skin
Don't ask me why I'll keep my promise I'll melt the ice
And you wanted to dance so I asked you to dance
But fear is in your soul
Some people call it a one night stand but we can call it paradise

File under 'head injury'. 3/10

Fun Boy 3 - Summertime: there are exceptions (see later), but cover versions are usually indicative of a creative dearth. I love Terry's melancholic singing, but my goodness this is shit. And what a miserable, inspirationless dirge. 2/10

Wavelength - Hurry Home: this week's 'somebody actually got a bus into town, went into a record shop and parted with their hard-earned' eternal mystery. Just terrible. Next! 0/10

Hayzi Fantayzee - John Wayne is Big Leggy: fucking hell. 0/10

Kool and the Gang - Big Fun: by rights, I ought to be a big fan of Robert Bell and the boys. But it just never happened. Does anyone remember the early 90s pop act 'Big Fun'? They were no KWS, that's for sure. 4/10

The Firm - Arthur Daley (He's Alright): I'm not sure of the actual title of this Steve Wright in the Afternoon-style comedy record disaster, but I'm not prepared to look it up. One of my Twitter followers measures his life out by the ever-looping 'Minder' episodes on ITV4. His mental health is evidently good during the first five series, but then it goes into decline during the shark-jumping later 'Terry' series, and reaches crisis point when Gary whatever-he's-called takes over in those terrible 1990s efforts. This song is also one of several that starts to run through my head when I'm cycling along on a particularly dangerous road or rain-soaked incline. One of my great fears is to be smashed to bits by a double decker bus/ten ton truck and my last thoughts being an (incredibly faithful) internal rendition of Alannah Miles's 'Black Velvet', 'The Lady in Red', 'Where Do You Go To My Lovely?' or 'Arthur Daley - He' s Alright'. Like many terrible songs, I occasionally imagine them sung in David Sylvian's languid, almost morbid croon.
Either way, it wouldn't be a good way for a man to die. 0/10

Soft Cell - What?: 'proof' (aka 'highly subjective speculation' ) that cover versions can be brilliant. Have to admit that it helped that I, (along with 52 million other UK residents), hadn't heard the Northern Soul original, and this version is done with such verve and such a battered, beruffled joy of life that it's probably my favourite Soft Cell record. Forty years on, Soft Cell remain seriously underrated - especially in regard to the influence they had on a million, heartbroken Smiths-fans-in-waiting. Best of all, Marc Almond never morphed into/revealed himself as Alf Garnett like 'Steve' Morrissey.
Addendum/Erratum: Marc Almond DID turn into Alf Garnett! (Thanks for the reminder, Jay Gent.)
And Gary Davies (Gambaccini's stand-in): Soft Cell were Marc Almond and Dave Ball.
Not Peter Ball.
A great record.

Toto Coelo - I Eat Cannibals: oh, well - back to the shit (a low-budget UK version of the Robert Zemeckis film). One of those one hit wonder, dumbass cabaret records fronted by women who wanted to be 'dancers', and/or good looking men who wanted to be 'models' (Tight Fit/Buck's Fizz/Cats UK) and just totally shite. The sort of stuff that Gary 'Peter Ball' Davies would play on his Fab FM roadshow. Hideous. 0/10

The Belle Stars - The Clapping Song: more terrible cover versions. Infantilism in adults (see also 'John Wayne is Big Leggy') makes for the worst, lowest form of pop. A pity, as The Belle Stars were highly talented, had post-punk credentials and would have a big hit with the more than decent 'Sign of the Times'. Anything to get that first foot on the sh'bizness ladder, I suppose. 0/10

Boys Town Gang - Canʼt Take My Eyes Off You: for the life of me, I can't remember why I was in a Star Wars-style bar in Liverpool's less than Bohemian Vauxhall Road when Boys Town Gang first appeared on TOTP. The sound of the bar regulars' jaws crashing to the floor was cacophonous, as the sight of two San Franciscan gay males in full, leather chapped, walrus muzzied regalia proved just too much for their battle-scarred, but paradoxically fragile male egos. They feared/hoped that the two dancers were going to break through the bar's TV and HAVE SEX WITH THEM - THERE AND THEN. It was probably me who asked mine host to switch over from Emmerdale Farm to Top of the Pops in the first place.
Many choice comments were made.
I escaped with my life, though.
BTG's rubbish nightclub version of CTMEOY is pedestrian at best, but extra points awarded for the obvious reasons. 5/10

Hot Chocolate - It Started With a Kiss: I'm not a fan of Hot Chocolate, but this is OK. Kevin Roland's favourite song of 1982. 6/10

Irene Cara - Fame: almost interminable. Shit song from a shit film and an even shitter TV series. 0/10

Survivor - Eye of the Tiger: 0/10

Dexy's Midnight Runners - Come on Eileen: my love of DMR is well catalogued on here, and Too Rye Aye is a splendid album, but it's difficult to separate my initial joy on hearing this song with its eternal appropriation by grown ups who are DETERMINED TO HAVE A GOOD TIME. I stopped going to 'DOs' (within reason) years ago - the human spirit is a beautiful, fragile, almost ephemeral thing.
And easily crushed.

Gary Davies: he was sort of OK for a few minutes, but then his cheesiness started to er, grate, and he reminded me of everything about Radio One that I used to hate during this era. And like Steve Wright - that other, but much worse and much more repulsive relic of what should be a bygone age - he's still there; he's still being paid at the licence payers' expense, and he's still f***ing awful. 'Peter Ball', indeed. And I know we all make mistakes, but that 'independent production team' (created to syphon off even more licence money) would have spotted that - had they given a tuppeny shite, that is. 1/10

Programme as a whole: horrible. 2/10
Worstsong: Toto Coelo/The Clapping Song
Best: Soft Cell

Click on the link to hear the song: