Pick of the Pops 57 (March 19th 1980)

A splendid year for chart pop music, so you can guarantee that Gambaccini will choose the worst possible selection from March 19th 1980 just to spoil my weekend.


The Jam - straight in at Number One this week with the astonishing Going Underground. Guess what Gambaccini/the BBC did?

Exhibit A

Cliff Richard - Carrie

Let's face it, Cliff's shite - his music, his persona,  his clothes, his politics, everything - and like Steve Wright, he's been around forever, propagating tat like this for people with neither taste nor brains. Carrie is by no means his worst record, but I can only think of Viz's Captain Morgan and His Hammond Organ these days when I hear Cliff's risible attempt to join the adult world.


Exhibit B

Kenny Rogers - Coward of the County

Stiff Little Fingers' brilliant At the Edge fell two places and so wasn't played. Kenny Rogers' record had fallen three places, but, hey, it had been an American Number One, so 'Gambo' broke the habit of a lifetime and played the dodgy million-seller rather than a Belfast/'Troubles' punk cri de coeur.

As someone far cleverer pointed out to me recently, Rogers seems to be getting his rocks off when he describes the assault on the (fictional) Becky - especially the creepy ellipsis (and shitty grammar) of "and there was three of them".

A revenge fantasy song for creepy c and w fans. (TAUTOLOGY KLAXON!)

A horrible, shitty record. 0/10

The Whispers - And The Beat Goes On

A tremendous single (both 7 and 12") and a slinky piece of dance/soul that just oozes into the consciousness like aural osmosis. I remember hearing this in a club back in March 1980 and was just blown away.

Ace. 9/10 

Rush - The Spirit of Radio

Add the component parts: Geddington Lee's stupid, testes-in-a-blender vocals; the terrible cod-reggae near the end, and the ridiculous Yoda-like syntactic lyrical inversions ("a companion, unobtrusive") and you'd be hard pushed not to be laughed out of the room in any discussion where you professed a liking for this record.

But…I love it. That bass (near) intro, the acoustic spacing, and the occasional non-metal guitar and you begin to realise... no TSOR, no Nirvana. A definite influence on (the) Pixies, as well, and sampled quite brilliantly by Saint Etienne. 8/10

Martha and the Muffins - Echo Beach

A title stolen from John Foxx and the silliest name for a band this side of The Snuts, M and the M's Echo Beach is such a beautiful record. I also remember that utter talentless c**t Steve Wright making fun of lead singer Martha Johnson's appearance on Top of the Pops 2 a few years back.

Yes - Steve Wright poking fun at another human being's appearance.


The Brothers Johnson - Stomp

A silly title for a f***ing brilliant record. A kitchen disco guaranteed play 'round ours'  every single time. 9/10


In the lower reaches of the chart this week - the great Jon Pertwee with Worzel's Song - and sporting Paul Weller's 'Strange Town' stripey blazer!

The Gibson Brothers - Cuba

I think I've done my 'Gibson Brothers anecdote ("TELL US AGAIN!", a nation screams), so I'll just look at the record in depth.

It's alright, I suppose. 6/10

Captain and Tenille - Do That To Me One More Time

A record that's slipped seven places (after hanging round like a particularly bad smell), but if there's one thing that gets Gambaccini particularly tumescent - and gives proof of that same record's evident quality - is its status as being a "former American Number One".

So no SLF, but we get to hear this ghastly, euphemised,  demonstrative-as-indicator paean to 'having some more sex'.

Utterly spew-making, but used to great tragi-comic effect in Alan Bleasdale's it's-not-going-to-be-repeated-any-time-soon, early eighties Play For Today, The Muscle Market. Toni Tenille did backing vocals for Pink Floyd and so has a rather fine musical pedigree, which abominations like DTTMOMT and the horrible (and highly illegal) Muskrat Love tend to tarnish. The Wikipedia* entry regarding her relationship with and marriage to Daryl 'The Captain' Dragon is particularly sad (triste rather than crappy).

*Wikipedia wormholes are one of the truly great joys of modern life.


The Detroit Spinners - Working My Way Back to You

The Four Seasons' record was an unusual choice for TDS, but the inclusion of original song within the song (if you get my drift) 'Forgive Me Girl' raised it slightly above the ordinary. A nice, undemanding pop song and an unlikely number one in a really good year for number one records. 5/10

Blondie - Atomic

Just an awesome record. Had this been the lead single from Eat to the Beat, it would have been Number One for months.

Absolutely everything that's great about Blondie in four brilliant minutes. 10/10

Peter Gabriel - Games Without Frontiers

I wouldn't know where to start with this.

Possibly the worst lyrics you're likely to hear, but what makes them worse than more obvious candidates (see next record) is that Peter Gabriel (obviously) THINKS THEY'RE PROFOUND.

The first time I heard him singing "It's a Knockout!", I remember feeling really embarrassed.

And I was in a room on my own.

I just wish Robin Williams had been there to say "It's not your fault, son. It's not your fault ".


Strawberry Fayre's It's a Knockout boardgame, featuring Eddie Waring front and centre. (Other, more problematic BBC host expertly eliminated from image using Microsoft's hi-tech 'scribble all over' facility.)

Liquid Gold - Dance Yourself Dizzy

The least cool band that ever (dis)graced the Top of the Pops studio.

Not a bad record, though.


Marti Webb - Take That Look Off Your Face

Gambaccini wouldn't play The Vapors' Turning Japanese - despite it going up four places. Not sure if current thinking deems it racist or because of its rude connotations. I doubt if too many people realise that it's actually a song about w*nking.

Yes, winking. 


Shit. 1/10

Fern Kinney - Together We Are Beautiful 

A nice vocal performance, but a dreadful record. 1/10

This chart will always remind me of a brilliant FA Cup semi-final when the Toffees played West Ham. I wrote about this game at length for WSAG, and I thought that visceral, beautiful feeling had all but disappeared until I saw last Thursday's game against Newcastle.

Kudos to a young man with principles (see Gambaccini and other BBC wankers lack of in the next entry) and I don't think I'll be able to eliminate the mental image of The Boltcutter (go to YouTube if you - rightly - have no interest in football) via my very delicate psychological defences.

The Jam - Going Underground/Dreams of Children

Not their finest song by any means, but possibly the most exciting musical moment of 1980 was The Jam going straight in at Number One with Going Underground.

Everyone (with a heart/soul/brain) of my age knew that this was important - a brilliant band with a conscience, finally blowing away the old order of Tory rock dinosaurs who couldn't give a fuck if their fans lived or died - so long as they paid through their noses for the upkeep of their revolting lifestyles.

And Going Underground was such an exciting record!

Its hard hitting, prescient, socialist lyrics still resound - and tell you more about shithead, Brexity Britain than it's healthy to know:

You'll see kidney machines

Replaced by rockets and guns -

And the public wants

What the public gets,

But I don't get what this society wants...

And did Radio 2 play this landmark, behemoth of a song?

Did it fuck.

Gambaccini played Dreams of Children instead - not because of listener over-familiarity with Going Underground, but due something self-evidently more sinister.

Don't get me wrong, I love Dreams of Children,  but it's a vastly inferior track to its fellow double A-side, so you can bet your sorry ass that someone at the BBC/Tory central (they're indistinguishable, believe me) didn't want its 40-60 years old target audience to hear Going Underground's genuinely hard-hitting, left-wing message (some 42 years after the event) and realise that voting Tory - especially Red Wall Tory - marks you out as being at best a dupe, and at worst the most miserable, selfish excuse for a human being and/or arsehole - when you could be so much better.

And even though the buffoon/liar/criminal Johnson claims (today, 19.3.22) that voting for Brexit is pretty much the same as the Ukraine defending their increasingly decimated country from the invading Russian war murderers with their hypersonic and thermobaric missiles, there's nothing Joe British Public likes better than doffing their caps to a populist toff, and will continue to vote for such an utter twat (and his fellow criminals) in perpetuity.

I just despair.

 A twat, yesterday.

And I've just thought about Keir Starmer's version of the Labour Party and I just want to cry.


I can just imagine how it would have stuck in Gambaccini's MOR/Quality American RAHCK/Centrist* craw to have had to have played this record, and I bet he positively sprayed his Action Slacks when he found out that a 'compromise' had been 'found'.

I'd say that I'm not paying my licence any more, but that's what that intellectual giant Nadine Dorries (Breck Road's own Benedict Arnold) wants, so I'm keeping that Direct Debit.

For now.



Gambaccini: the f***ing bad, bad hank. 0/10

Worst Record: surprisingly NOT 'Gabriel'. 

Best: loads of great records this week, but it has to be Going Underground.

Programme as a Whole: some great records, but the stench of corruption and censorship spoiled it. 0/10

POTP March 19th 1980 link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0015b7w

Click on the pic to hear a truly great record: