Pick of the Pops 73 (July 23rd 1983)

July 23rd 1983, and I'm cutting maize and picking broccoli and summer fruits in the beautiful, verdant Landes départment of Aquitaine in south west France, before hitching across country to the more arid (but equally pretty) Hérault dept in Occitania for the vendage.

Life is (relatively) carefree...and there's pop music to be had!

Let's see if 'Gambo' can sully the memories...


Gary Byrd and the GB Experience - The Crown

Another week, another Stevie Wonder collaboration.

Despite its dodgy Chariots of the Gods extemporising in the opening verses, this is an absolutely splendid single, using Nile Rogers' Good Times bass riff for some old school rapping about the importance of Black History and personal development, fulfilment and pride.

Favourite Song of Mine That's Been Destroyed By Juxtaposition With Some Random Awfulness of the Week

No.47 Gary Byrd's The Crown - I was once subjected to an audiotape of a live performance of dullard racist Roy Chubby Brown's stand up. Mr Brown's comedy (from what I could gather) largely consisted of him adding the word fuck to some half-arsed gag to render it 'raunchy', 'dangerous' and 'subversive' to his future Red Wall Tory Brexit racist audience.

To wit (irony acknowledged):

I took the wife to a fancy fuckin' restaurant last night.

Isaid: " What'll you have?"

"I think I'll have the steak," she said.

"Fucking think again," I told her.

The rest was the usual comedy of hatred, be it directed at people with non-white skin or emphasising his evident fear of women's genitalia.

It was tedious on a grand scale, but particularly grating is that I now have to make an effort not to think of his hilarious pastiche ("More fuckin' likely a fuckin' CORNISH fuckin' pastiche!" I can hear the Chubster 'quipping') 'sex song' in which "I wear the Crown" became "She wore the coil" to the delight of his "It's just a joke/you've got no sense of humour, you lefty, snowflake miserable bastard" crowd of Nazis in disguise.

Anyway, The Crown is superb. 9/10

"I brought my kids up to respect me - by punchin' ev'ry one of 'em in t' fuckin face."

"Mmmmm, Betty - le chat a fait un gros tas de merde dans ma beret!"

Echo and the Bunnymen - Never Stop

There's no doubt that Echo and the Bunnymen make a great sound, but Mr McCulloch's lyrics rarely bear close examination and consequently I never took them to heart as much as many of my contemporaries evidently did.

Having said that, I've seen them twenty or so times since '79 and I own pretty much everything they've ever recorded.

And their 2001 gig at the Leadmill in Sheffield is perhaps the happiest I've ever been at a gig.

So apart from: their (often) brilliant music; the happy memories they've given me; the fact that I own their entire vinyl collection; the fact that Will Sergeant made his poetry debut (and was an immensely lovely bloke) at a Spoken Word night I curate; the fact that I copped off at the Bunnymen/Teardrop 1979 Christmas party at Eric's; their place in Liverpool musical folklore; the memory of three of my fellow (Portuguese) grape harvesters giving me a two hundred mile lift and singing along to 'The Back of Love' in an open-top car in southern France in 1983, and their lead singer being subject to the greatest protest letter in TV history...what have the Bunnymen ever done for me?

A good song, but nowhere near their best. 7/10

The Police - Wrapped Around Your Finger

"...and I turned up at the pub one night wearing a black and yellow jumper, and after that everyone called me Sting."

That's such a monumental lie.

Grown men giving another man a cool nickname, I mean...

More likely comments would more likely take the form of:

"It's your round, Buzzy Fly Arse."


"Is that Shit Jumper over there?"


"Look, it's Wanker again."


" Oh, look: Stink!"

It's a delusion shared by Ian 'Duke' McCulloch and Paul 'The Guvnor' Ince, but not Michael 'Pob'/'Coke Fiend Hypocrite'/'Fucking Gobshite' Gove.


Teenage fan art in Look-in magazine, 1983: String and Simon Le Bons. Uncanny!

The Cure - The Walk

It took The Cure an age to have their first Top 20 hit, and this shrill, curiously uninvolving single was it. It's not terrible by any means, but it was definitely their weakest single up to this point.

I remember playing their Faith album evey single day for months after its release in 1981, and I love the idea of (in a parallel universe), any of its tracks getting to number one for weeks on end.

If The Funeral Party, The Drowning Man or All Cats Are Grey had been a 'summer smash', people, life and culture would have been so much better, and there would never have been a Love Island, Britain's Got Talent, The Kardashians, Strictly or Geordie fucking Shore.


Bob Smith: he wouldn't give permission to allow a 'Robert Smith of The Cure' to be featured in Stars in Their Eyes.

It made me love him even more.

Bananarama - Cruel Summer

No two ways about it, this is an ace single. A song that sings about summer with strange, downbeat, almost flattened vocals, culminating in its resigned-about-life chorus.

I would have loved The Cure to have recorded this.

And when I worked in France, every day at one p.m. on the dot, I'd hear this song blasting out from a house in our village.

Just one play, every day.

No other records were ever played.

Just Cruel Summer.

There's a Stephen King/Sally Rooney novel in there somewhere.


Tom Robinson - War Baby

I really like Tom. He had/has more courage than most people could ever dream of.

But I don't like his music.

This is worthy, but ball/ovary aching.

I'm glad the cast of Geordie Shore didn't re-record it (for charity) as Wor Baby.


Irene Cara - Flashdance (What a Feeling)

Gambaccini pronounces Cara as Carra, and thus evokes the high-pitched, dog's whistle tones of the phlegm-hurling Sky pundit.

Not much to say about this - it's alright, but haven't seen the film (although I love Adrian Lyne's Jacob's Ladder),


- and it makes me wonder when Gerri Halliwell* is going to return to the rock fold.

She really was the David Bowie/Jon Mitchell  of her generation.

*Taking Andrew, Edward and their horse-abusing sister out of the equation, is there a worse child of Elizabeth Windsor than Prince Charles? Retrograde, dodgy as fuck, and about as charismatic as a jarg Aldi Pot Noodle, he and his fiend-like future Queen-to-be will be positively mediated to the point of our deaths when his ma pops her clogs. (Much as I despise royalty, I hope she lives to be 196 just to spite him.)

Having said all that, even I felt a share of his pain when Halliwell, G mimicked Marilyn Monroe's 'Happy birthday Mr President' song and turned it into 'Happy birthday, your royal highness' in front of millions. The fact that she was an obvious chancer with neither discernible talent nor anything resembling a singing voice (but had struck lucky beyond belief) made things much worse, as she 'breathily' intoned her sycophancy to His Royal Twattiness.

Embarrassed? I've smashed my toes with a sledgehammer every single day since 1996 - and they still resemble Ali Bongo's slippers.


Is there anything more pathetic than the kow-towing to, and the arse licking of, the British royal family?

Every time, I see/think of this picture, I get the same reaction: 

"Approach the chamber 

And destroy your sight 

With a new Gorgon."

Malcolm McLaren - Double Dutch

Sued by the Zulu/South African band Buyoyo Boys for ripping off their single Puleng, McLaren (and producer/co-writer Trevor Horn) settled out of court, but retained the songwriting credits for this song.

Cultural appropriation apart, this is a (good and occasionally glorious) record.

[Oh, and I've realised the parent album was Duck Rock - and not Double Dutch - all you desperately nit-picky bastards.]

And I've been trying to work out who Thomas Brodie-Sangster's 'Malcolm McLaren' sounds like in the excellent, but-you-know-it-bears-as-much-a-resemblance-to-the-truth-as-sweaty-Andrew-Windsor's- trip-to-Pizza-Express-in-Woking Disney+ series Pistol, and I've finally worked out it's Collins, the raaag-maag joke collector in The Young Ones 'party' episode Interesting.

A bit niche that one, admittedly, but there are people out there doing in their PhD in early 80s British comedy.

And I'm only trying to help.


"You and me against the wyrrrlllld!" 

Collins is accosted by Billy Balowski in Interesting - perhaps the most accurate representation of any extended family party I attended in the 70s and 80s.


Did Not Play 

Heaven 17 - Come Live With Me

The creepiest line in 80s pop:

"I was thirty seven,

You were seventeen."



Eurythmics - Who's That Girl?

Bad lyrics alert:

"The language of love slips from my lover's tongue,
Cooler than ice cream - and warmer than the sun;
Dumb hearts get broken, just like china cups -
The language of love has left me broken on the rocks."
Not sure what's worse: the two, written by a not-very- bright seven year old similes in line two; or the sort of scanning you'd expect if Richard Madeley wrote pop lyrics in line four?
I think I'll go with the genius, John Donne-like metaphysical ice cream/warm sun combo.
Jesus, I hate this record so much. 0/10


All the great Metaphysical Poets are here: Andrew Marvell, Shakespeare, George Herbert, Hugh Rythmics...

Mike Oldfield - Moonlight Shadow

Next time I take my gypsy dress off in my yurt, I'll definitely play this record.

Harmless but cack. 3/10

Freez - AEIOU

I can just imagine the audience being corralled into a girls this side/boys that side by the TOTP floor manager and being told to sway sideways (alternately) whilst sporting balloons and out-of-fashion deely-boppers to show us what fun they were having - whilst spoiling both therecord and the evenings of ten million viewers at home.

Or even worse, being 'danced'/twatted around to by Pan's People/Legs and Co/Ruby Flipper successors... Zoo*.


*Not just the worst TOTP dance troupe, but the shittest thing ever. The occidental death of analysis, and the harbinger of all society's ills and disasters since 1982.

Zoo. Fucking hell.

Rod Stewart - Baby Jane

I don't mind Raaaaahhhhhhddddd Stoooo-wahhhhddd's paean to Bette Davis's rat-on-a-silver-salver-serving deranged Southern Belle* for some reason.

Even though it's quite clearly shit.

Nobody could doubt the effort that Stewart and his creative team put into the magnificent, Turner Prize-deserving record covers during this incredible, almost avant-garde stage of his career.

I've always shared Tony Soprano's contempt for nostalgia, and remember when conversations, but I remember when (SWIDT?!) I was interviewing a number of people for an English teaching post, and after politely dismissing the usual bullshitters who hadn't read a book since university/euphemersity**, I was left with two highly suitable, well-read candidates.

The first candidate interviewed well, but my goodness, she was dull.

The second one told the panel that although she had prepared to the nth degree, a sudden burst of rain had soaked her on the way to the school, and in her panicky, desperate attempts to do her make up in the ladies she'd "ended up looking like Baby Jane."

Although her reapplied slap wasn't exactly 100%, she looked fine, and in no way did she look like Joan Crawford's tormentor.

And it was such a great thing to say, and though it whistled and whooshed like a Lockheed Lightning over the potato-like heads and brains of 'the panel', I laughed at this genuinely funny, self-deprecating and clever comment, and knew that she would make a decent addition to the department.

Anyway, LSS (as you young folk say), I was outvoted by the dullards on the panel, and the young woman left all disconsolate and world weary.

I later found out that she had been offered a post at another school, but had left after trying to punch the head of department on numerous occasions. I also found out that she had a history of attacking her colleagues/the general public/Bill Beaumont, and had been give a favourable reference by her last employer for the sole purpose of getting rid of her.

The boring candidate accepted the job, but reneged on the deal two weeks later when she scored a much better job (the sneaky get), which just goes to show, that, er... you should be wary of job candidates who don't prepare for the eventualities/possibilities of rain in the British summer time, but make funny, though potential dramatically ironically-laced remarks... and maybe also the really fucking boring ones.


*I know it isn't. For goodness' sake.

**They talk about their uni days, even though their uni wasn't actually a uni, but was little more than a gymnasium/correspondence course portakabin when they attended - and before Tony War Criminal Blair decided 100% of the population should go to uni.

Cleckheaton 'Uni' (est. 1997) - formerly Cleckheaton Poly (est. 1996); Cleckheaton Zumba Rooms (est. 96); Cleckheaton Bargain Booze (1988)

Paul Young - Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)

Paul turns Marvin Gaye's jolly bed-hopping, wiping-one's-'thing'-on-the-curtains*-on-the-way-out, promiscuous classic into a new-man dirge of regret and introspection for a brave new world.

Paul's singing narrator suggests that his previous boasting and bedpost tallying have all been a sham.

But only because he's caught old-fashioned 'V.D.'.

The dirty ticket.

As the Good Lord once said: "If you can't do the time, don't commit the crime." (Matthew, 9:16-17)

There are some good examples of songs being slowed down in this manner to great effect - Sinead O'Connor's Nothing Compares to U (Prince); Talking Heads' Take Me To The River (Al Green); and Brian and Michael's Matchstalk** Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs (Bootsy Collins), but my goodness, this record is fucking awful!


*But not on the venetian blinds, no.

**It's taken me forty four years to work this out, but who the holy f**k says/said 'matchstalk'?


"...cos he painted kids who had nowt on their motherfuckin' feet!"

Brian and Michael go hip-hop.

Final Reckoning

Gambaccini: didn't pee me off in the slightest. 6/10

Programme as a whole: 7/10

Best song: Gary 'Budgie' Byrd

Worst: 'Youngy'

Click on the link to hear the song...