Pick of the Pops 45 (December 18th 1981)

People have asked me why I missed out on a few Pick of the Pops this year.

The answer is simple: some weeks I'm clinically depressed; some weeks I can't be arsed, and some weeks it's 1984. Or 1988. Or 1986. Particularly 1986.

Anyway, 1981 usually has something decent in its lucky bag o' shite.

So here we go...

Dollar - Mirror, Mirror

I wrote a review of the Dollar box set for James's lovely site earlier this year, and this was one of my favourite tracks. A clever and deceptively sad piece of writing, with the usual brilliant Trevor Horn production and a good performance from Thereza and the oleaginous Tory boy. 7/10


Imagination - Flashback

I'm not sure why Imagination have (sort of) disappeared from the public's consciousness. Probably the superfluous 'e' in Leee John's name. And of course, Leee John. Pity, really - they were occasionally quite good. 6/10

Queen and David Bowie - Under Pressure

I really disliked this song for years (it had Queen on it), but then I got older. David's contribution is as sublime as ever, but what the holy fuck Freddie is doing with his 'doob a doo ways' is (still) anybody's business. The daft bastard. 6/10

Duran Duran - My Own Way

After the disaster that was Careless Memory, Duran Duran decided that they'd include a tune with their next single. A good pop song. 7/10

The Police - Spirits in the Material World

The Police made some excellent singles; this unfortunately, isn't one of them 3/10

Status Quo - Rock n' Roll

If only all their records were like this  - with OK lyrics such as:

"Waiting all the time to find -

The radio playing on 'Caroline'..."

A rather nice and plaintive song - which is unusual because normally 'Quo' get on my tits. 6/10

Earth Wind and Fire - Let's Groove

Fucking hell - this is awesome. A brilliant, life-affirming pop song from a genius band/ensemble. It's saved my life on so many occasions.

God bless you, Maurice White! 10/10

Bucks Fizz - The Land of Make Believe

In the way that Dollar - BF's vague equivalents - made some great records, this lot never did. And Jay Aston is an even bigger Brexiter than Dollar's David VD!

A rubbish record. 2/10

Godley and Creme - Wedding Bells

One of the great pop crimes takes place when white boy pop bands try to make a Motown tribute/pastiche single. Unfortunately for my doesn't-bear-close-examination theorem, this is (almost) great - especially the gear change of 'I'm just a - square peg - in a round hole', but NOT the terrible truck gear change near the end of the song. 7/10

Madness - It Must Be Love

Labi Siffre's delicate and beautiful original is one of my favourite pop records. This version is just great. 8/10

Adam and the Ants - Ant Rap

Post Kings of the Wild Frontier/Prince Charming, it must have occurred to Adam that he could put out a single of him defecating on vinyl and people would still buy it.

So he did.

Not just the worst record of the week, but possibly the worst record of the 45 Pick of the Pops I've written about this year.

F***ing terrible - and I love Adam, me. 0/10

Abba - One of Us

I'll never forgive or forget the meanness of that Not the Nine O'Clock News sketch which reckoned 'One of us is ugly; one of us is cute" (meaning Frida - WHO IS FUCKING BEAUTIFUL) written by some publIc schoolboy misogynist bedwetter whose daddy had shoehorned him a writing job at the BBC. I'm not sure why this song isn't higher in my Abba list: it's beautiful, elegiac, melancholic and like the best Abba tracks, it's a haunting little psychodrama of its own.


"Staring at the ceiling,

Wishing she was somewhere else instead"

is the best piece of lyric poetry on show this week. 9/10

Cliff Richard - Daddy's Home

I can't think of Cliff any more without thinking of Gary Delaney's asexual/a: sexual gag. 

This song is beyond crap. 0/10

Julio Iglesias - Begin the Beguine

Julio is the subject of so many Pope JP2/Albert Camus questions in bad quizzes and was the subject of 'Hoolio Ingreasyarse' gags from top British comics like Jim Bowen and 'Large' from Little and Large. A great song, a lush production and a very cool dude. Somehow, though, this record still manages to be shit. Quite some feat! 5/10

The Human League - Don't You Want Me?

Possibly my least favourite track on the awesome Dare! album, but (obviously) it's a great pop song that defines the eighties for a lot of people. Bonus point for its (scally girl-voiced) inclusion in Alexei Sayle's rendition of Doctor Marten's Boots in The Young Ones. 8/10

Gambaccini - OK this week: 4/10

Programme as whole: decent - 8/10

Worst: Adam

Best: EW+F!

Click on link to hear the song: