Pick of the Pops 30.7.81

The inner cities burn, but there's always a royal wedding or some other bread and circuses monstrosity to invoke mistaken ideas of the nature of patriotism and to kindle the destructive fires of nationalism.

It's summer 1981.

ELO - Hold On Tight

Few records are not improved by the addition of some French lyrics or vocals. Obviously there are exceptions, as the (near) Wolverhampton Wings hereby attest.

It's strange the way that English usage evolves; French letter was anachronistic even when I was young, but then again so was condom, so it's strange the way that this odd, old-fashioned 'c' word eventually superseded (ooh-er) all others in the Johnny Linguistics Wars of 1983-89.

We never had a single sex education lesson in my Catholic grammar school. Nor did we have any lessons in how to deal with handling post-schooling bureaucracy; no cookery lessons; no dealing with the joys and fallouts of human emotions; no plastering/ plumbing/car engine maintenance/driving lessons, or indeed anything resembling practical, day-to-day life skills to supplement the dubious 'academia'  that was our 9-4 (plus hours of homework) lot.

This was British schooling in the 1970: a fucking waste of time and a sinful betrayal of millions and millions of young lives.

All joking aside, this ⬆️ sort of thing really boils my piss and is symptomatic of the victory of the neanderthals and cretins who hark back to cocaine abuser Michael Gove's retrograde, Gradgrind ideology concerning a mythologised 1950s England. Britain's strictest teacher? Imagine thinking that was a good thing? Something to be admired? In other words: 'I can't control a class through respect or by imparting my love of the subject, so I'll subjugate children with somebody else's spirit, soul and intellect-crushing rules.' Britain's Strictest Teacher? Like being the Premier League's Toughest Tackler or the UK's Number One Lion Tamer - always dodgy ideologically, loved only by bullies and the ignorant, having no place in a modern world, and just totally and utterly vile.


(ELO cont.) On one particular Parents' Night, our mums and dads were given a pamphlet entitled 'The Roman Catholic Guide to Sex and Reproduction' (the contents of which they were to imbibe before deciding whether it was suitable to pass on to their sons), but - as you could imagine - it was rubbish. There were no action shots whatsoever; instead there was a labelled diagram of a man's privates (I coloured mine in - the diagram, that is), and a picture of a lady's parts that looked like the old Derby County badge, and proved of no use whatsoever when (finally) some woman was kind enough to allow me to get to 'third base' (as our American chums might say, but somewhat apposite in this case, seeing as Derby County played at the Baseball Ground during this time).

Anyway, a rubbish education (four hours of geography a week; seven hours of maths; the most terrible, life-force-crushing P.E. lessons imaginable -  where's the fucking yoga, dude? - and sundry other less than essential subjects foisted on those who would never have an aptitude for them, and for whom their intellects were not improved one iota by their proximity*) and mostly taught by bullying, perverted individuals whose soul had been incised and who could only derive pleasure from the modicum of regulated power they were given, and of course, the possibilities of inflicting punishment (verbal, psychological, physical) upon their young charges.

Anyway, luckily we had ELO, and I always held on to my dreams.


*The one saving grace was that I was allowed to drop both woodwork and metalwork at the end of my first year at Saint Batter-the-Kids. This was not an act of philanthropy/altruism on behalf of the school, it was more a pragmatic decision made to reduce the weekly fleet of ambulances attending the school to take away teenagers who had lost digits and other bodily appendages after contact with sharp metal and woodworking tools. My admiration for people who can fashion and mould materials is both genuine and profound. My DIY mending skills mostly involve copious quantities of superglue, and consequently I rarely have any sensations in my fingertips from one day to the next.

An image from The Roman Catholic Guide to Sex and Reproduction  - DCFC For Real Fans Press, 1974 (21 guineas; plain/wipeable cover.)

Kim Wilde - Water on Glass

Few early 80s records are not improved by the addition of a little bit of analogue synth, but there are exceptions. 

I've nothing against Kim Wilde, but her career/music was always a bit cabaret, a bit showbiz, a bit before-its-time X Factor. This was a really fertile time for women in pop/rock and especially for women who created their own music or who had forced their way to the front of male-dominated bands. Kim, on the other hand, just seemed like a singing mannequin for RAK records, and for her brother/father's vaguely OK take on the emerging shiny new pop of the early 80s.

I really liked her follow up single (Chequered Love) but she actually sounds not arsed on this track.

And imagine a 1981 where the independent-minded women's pop of the likes of Dolly Mixture or The Slits was feted above this charmless, obvious and frankly crappy pop music?



Look-in magazine 1981. Political indoctrination starts young. Luckily, this was just the front cover, and inside were 39 other pages of scabrous left-wing essays covering the joys of republicanism, along with a cut-out-and-keep guide to the evils of a country where a meritocracy is deliberately prevented by the media's collusion with the sinister manipulations of big business and the far right - and best of all a guide to radical Marxism and  pin-ups of both Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebnecht.

Oh, and a new Cannon and Ball strip.

Bob Marley - No Woman, No Cry

Gambaccini reminds us that he was in the audience for this live recording, and I now find that my admiration for the man no longer observes boundaries. The fact that he's had all week to 'do'* this programme, and then announced it as "this week in 1983" makes no difference to the respect - and indeed, love - I feel for this cuddly titan of Radio 2.

As for the record, other reggae artists were/are available, British Joe Public; and f-me, this record  seems to go on forever.

*Puts together cursory script (whilst on the bog) from the record selection and 'factoids' given to him by 'the team; comes in, modulates voice a bit; fucks off home again.


The Politicisation of the Young

2. Children's TV, 1981

Noel Edmonds' Multicoloured Swap Shop -

Noel: Tim, is there someone or something that really inspired you to start collecting Nazi memorabilia?

Timothy McDougall: Yes. Der Fuhrer.

Randy Crawford - You Might Need Somebody

Although it has one of the most repeated refrains imaginable, I've never got bored with the brilliance of Street Life - the record which launched Randy Crawford's career.

A great singer, undoubtedly; unfortunately, Ms Crawford or her advisors chose a career path embracing so many of these soulless, big-sounding, but nothingy 'showstoppers'.

YMS is the sound of musical constipation, a record so turgid that it almost stops.


A  lack of proper media and political education in Britain led a majority of Joe Public into believing that this CUNT would be "an OK person to go for a pint with".

The Jacksons - Walk Right Now

The Jacksons (walrus moustachioed union leader Tom, Everton journeyman midfielder Tommy, and Brookside 'fire bobby' and unjustly imprisoned family man George), got together when brother Michael stopped thinking he was 'it' for five minutes, and produced an excellent, if not terribly well/fondly remembered body of work, having made a successful transition from the bubblegum Motown of their previous incarnation, the Jackson 5. The addition of Randy should really have entailed a re-branding as the Jackson 6, but commercial prudence dictated the far more sensible - and immune to additions The Jacksons nomenclature.

"What if our Janet wants to join? What about our Stonewall or our Action? We'd be The Jackson 8, 9 or 10," Tito informed his dad, the Burton-on-Trent born Joe.

"I told you this, ages ago" he replied. "That's why we're now The Jacksons. Otherwise, we'd have had to buy loads of marker pens to change the names on our Head bags. Hadn't thought that through though, had you, smartarse?"

(An extract from The Jackson 35 - The True Story of the Not-Shit Osmonds.)

Good record. 7/10


"What makes Britain great? Cricket* on a summer afternoon; tea** and cucumber** sandwiches; and most of all, the Royal Family!"***


*The most institutionally racist sport in the UK.

**Harvested by near-slaves.

***In Liverpool, the ordinary people of the city fought the Nazis sympathisers of the 1930s on the streets, and sent them fleeing with bricks and bottles whizzing past their ears. They were/are the true patriots - and not these charlatans. 


Tight Fit - Back to the Sixties

Fucking hell.

You give Joe Public (again - the bastards) the freedom to buy any record they want and they buy this 'disco beat' backed medley of sixties nostalgia.

There was a spate of these really horrible, ugly records in 1981 (and the foul trend was revived in 1989 by that absolute tit behind Jive Bunny, who, henceforth shall only be known as The Jive Bunny Tit), but this was by no means the worst of these monstrous records, oh no.

There's a much worse record further down.


Back to the Sixties: Radio 4's Doctor Findlay's Casebook

[Late at night on the first floor of Doctor Findlay's country dwelling.]

"Would you like a cup of tea, Doctor Findlay?"

"No, Janet."

"Well, would you like a cup of coffee, Doctor Findlay?"

(Terse) "No, Janet!"

"Well, then, would you like a wee dram then, Doctor Findlay?"

"NO, JANET! Och, can you no have a shite in peace in this house?"

Kate Bush - Sat in Your Lap

Although it's going down the chart, Gambaccini rides the Kate Bush/Stranger Things wave by playing the initially poorly received Sat in Your Lap.

A great single from the equally (initially) poorly received The Dreaming album.

It would be another four years before her next hit.



The Shameful Political Indoctrination of Children 

2. Comics - Here, 'Roy of the Rovers' - from the popular sporting wish fulfilment comic strip Roy of the Rovers (found in the gender stereotyping, no-girls here, mate, preserve-the-ridiculous-and-obscene-patriarchy  'boys' comic Roy of the Rovers*) - leaves 'the kids' under no illusion that the lauding, kowtowing and cap-doffing afforded to a repulsive, anachronistic, feudal throw-back family is in some way 'the norm'.

In the forefront, one of Roy's children is held back by an over-zealous copper for having hair like an early eighties dish sponge.

*Such imagination!

Depeche Mode - New Life

One of my favourite bars I've ever visited was the DM Baar in Tallinn, Estonia. DM was a Depeche Mode fan bar, and had pics of the band covering every inch of the walls, had DM monikered cocktails and only played DM records.

But just as Stalin had de-personed Trotsky, the DM's owners and its clientele had erased Vince Clarke from Depeche Mode's history, and none of Vince's pics or songs could be discerned during our lightning, four hour visit to the bar.

It was a bit of a long time to hold a grudge (this was 2014), but come to think of it, I think I inherited some of my grudges, although most of them were based on logic, politics and philosophy, and were aimed at the collective band of dubiously talented 60s celebrity twats of this city - for being Tories, tax dodgers, or just genuinely appalling human beings with no consideration for the travails and feelings of ordinary human beings.

Vince Clarke's only crime was leaving a synth band after the first album.

The crimes and sins of Liverpool's Beatles-coat-tails-hangers-on-ers are legion.

And isn't Nadine Dorries just a far more dangerous Cilla Black?

I've always loved New Life.

And always will.


"Two Dave Gahans, an Alan Wilder, a bag of dry roasted and a...VINCE CLARKE, please.

Only joking, Dimitri, you miserable bastard!"

Sheena Easton - For Your Eyes Only

A song almost as turgid as Randy Crawford's effort in this chart, but sung rather nicely by Sheena.

I know that time and distance and memory have sugar coated a lot of people's memories of the Roger Moore Bond films, and that's OK because it's not at all important in the grand scheme of things.

But they're all really fucking terrible - not just for (say) the racism of Live and Let Die, and the appalling sexism of the films of his entire tenure, it's also the fact that they're so dated, so clumsily made, with appalling matte shots and desperately unfunny lines and spew-inducing innuendo, and worst of all Roger Moore.

Roger was a likeable fellow (as has been mentioned before), but he was so miscast - and seeing his badly-executed fighting scenes and the lack of effort taken in finding a stuntman who looks anything like him is just risible.

If you can sit through a Roger Moore Bond film from start to finish, I'd suggest it's time to do something a little lwss enervating with your time.

Worse than his smarmy and silly interpretation of the role, though, are Roger's kecks. From Live and Let Die (1973) onwards, Roger's keck flare grew exponentially, so by 1985's A View To A Kill they were so colosally huge that it's fair to say that he initiated the Madchester era and its embrace of the more comfortable/voluptuous/generous trouser/shoe interface.

Flares tend to spoil everything, and their periodic revival as a fashion accessory is both inevitable and unstoppable.

I mean, why is classic Star Trek better than Space 1999?



Martin Landau's Captain Koenig (what a shit captain, he is) always seems to be in a perpetual Quincy M.E. style nark for some reason, whereas Billy Shatner's Kirk is almost beatific (and priapic, if we're being honest).

And why? Kirk has straights while Koenig is saddled (almost literally) with Birmo's.

And really bad ochre 'platties' to boot.

So to speak.

More ST v S1999 fashion wars next week!


Barbara Bain and Martin Landau (in their fawn swishies) ponder the impending perils of contact with another alien life force sporting a Home Counties accent.

"Shit, Jaaaaahhhnnn - is it Margaret Lay-dahn or      Rich-ard Jaaaaahhhnnn-sohhnn this week?"

"Hell, no - I'm pahzzative it's An'-o--ny Valentine!"

Third World - Dancing on the Floor

Sounding like a reggaefied The Real Thing, Third World's decent but earnest-soubding record is like a quick breath of fresh air before the ball-crunching horror of the next record... 7/10

Louis Clark and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Hooked on Classics

Possibly the nadir of this year's Pick of the Pops, and - yet again - another candidate for the worst record ever.

Hooked is a lashed-together melange of orchestral (not classical) pieces familiar to Daily Mail readers/future Classic FM (occasional) listeners and other dickheads who pretend to know about classical music in the manner of Harold Steptoe/Tony Hancock/Hyacinth Bucket putting on sophisticated airs, but in reality only knowing each individual 'tune' as 'that music off the advert'/the sound of my £1.50 music box/unlikely porn film soundtrack.

The syncopated 'disco' backdrop sounds like a medium-sized arse being slapped, and the record reaches its nadir of awfulness with a burst of the 1812 Overture so that 'dad' can air punch in time to the 'shots', or unleash a volley of well-timed trumps (depending on his level of Terry and June-ness or basic vulgarity).


Terry and June in blissful repose after having 'done it' - for the sixth time that afternoon.

"Shall I use the strap-on, Terry?"


[Theme music and titles]

Stevie Wonder - Happy Birthday

It's seems churlish to criticise a record with such noble, game-changing sentiments, but this is the worst track (musically speaking) on the otherwise decent (but not great) Hotter Than July album, and almost a precursor of the dreaded I Just Called... in its bus driver singalong-to-ness.


Spandau Ballet- Chant No.1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On)

A good record, but not exactly enjoyable. Spandau Ballet benefit enormously from their musical tie-in with Beggar and Co. They never made a record (anywhere near) as good as this* again.

*You may have fond, nostalgic memories of having your arse felt to True, but that doesn't make it a good record.


The Specials - Ghost Town

I covered this last year (try and pick a different month next time you choose 1981, POTP producers), but it makes little difference. A genius, state of the nation address from a brilliant band - and the best record here by a mile.

Terry Hall's plaintive "Do you remember the good old days before the ghost town?" is one of the greatest moments in British pop music.


The "NOT THAT TERRY HALL!" 'joke' is trotted out for possibly the last time.

Shakin' Stevens - Green Door




Gambaccini - 0/10

Programme as a whole - 4/10

Best - The Specials

Worst - Hooked on Brexit

Click on the link to hear the song...