My favourite pop year.
So let's give it a go.
Anita Ward - Ring My Bell
There was so much great MOBO chart music in 1979 (as there always is, of course), so how this lifeless dirge got to the "toppermost" is beyond me.
Mind you, Joe Public votes for Brexits and Tories - so maybe that's why. 3/10
ELO - Shine a Little Love
Although the wonderful Sparks are currently delighting audiences across the UK, and are staying static in this chart with the brilliant The Number One Song in Heaven, Gambaccini decided to play this dropping-six-places ELO record instead of one of the Mael brothers' finest.
I don't dislike the Farm Foods Fab Four, but I don't actively like them either. 
McFadden and Whitehead - Ain't No Stopping Us Now
A bit building society ad/ chicken in a basket fare - and not helped by the memory of the BBC's 'Top of the Pops Orchestra' trying to emulate Philadephia's funkiest session musicians but ending up sounding about about as soulful and funky as Nadine Dorries.
It's not a good start. 4/10
Eruption - One Way Ticket
I much prefer Eruption's version of I Can't Stand the Rain to the Ann Peebles original. Heresy, I know. Unfortunately, OWT sounds like a Home Bargains Boney M - or even worse, Ottawan.

Pick of the Pops so far...

The Police - Roxanne

A later variant of Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town, this record reminds me of a troubling conversation with a woman I once knew.

"You can do better than sex work, you know."

"What a woman does with her body is no concern of any man."

"I'm not disagreeing with you, but the dangers, diseases ... the fact that your pimp is a man - doesn't that bother you?"

"You're just concerned that people will see me in my working girl outfits and somehow it'll reflect badly on you."

"That's not true."

"That IS true; so fuck you, Stephen!"

"It IS NOT true; so fuck YOU, Nana."


See what I did there?

I quite like some of The Police's singles, but this is bobbins. 4/10

Donna Summer - Hot Stuff

The number one DS track on both Spotify and Deezer. I have an inordinate number of Donna albums, but I've never been 'fussed' with 'Bad Girls', the most successful long player of her career. This track sounded good today, though. 7/10
Art Garfunkel - Bright Eyes
As I've said before, Watership Down had a certain cultural currency amongst proto-EMO teenagers, Arnhem/Dunkirk veterans (of which author Richard Adams was one) and football hooligans.
I had a fight with an Aston Villa fan about a year after this record came out. The Villa fan was much bigger than me and had picked on me because I was skeletally thin, and looked like the 'easy win' that all bullies/angry closets savour. Unfortunately for him, I was burning with the the righteous indignation/angst of teenage proto-EMOism and had sublimated my lover-spurnedness (see 'Peaches and Herb' below for story) into David Bruce Banner-style naked aggression, and used my fleeting superpower to put the gentleman concerned onto his arse. In front of his mates.
It was a lucky shot.
Violence rarely solves anything (except Nazi killing), but if a six foot three, fluffy haired Brummagen* - sporting (ironically, under the circumstances) unfashionable Birmo's - wants to give you a Dunlop Green Flash shoeing, what is one supposed to do?
*I don't know if this word even exists, but Ronnie Barker uses it to describe Lenny Godber's native city in Porridge.


Gary Moore - Parisienne Walkways 

Ever since watching Derry Girls, I've been unable to think of my favourite city as anything but 'Parze'. One of the great things that punk seemed to blow away for a bit was the phenomenon of sad bastards at my school having 'serious' who's the best guitarist debates - a feature of my time during those non-halcyon days of 1973-80. At one stage, being an outsider to this 'proper music world', I felt that I ought to 'gen up' on such matters, but after thirty or so seconds of listening to Jimmy Page, Richie Blackmore, Jan Akkerman, Rory Gallagher, Ry fucking Cooder or Carlos bastard Santana, I'd lose the will to live (and it was never my most powerful of life forces to start with) and I'd go back to playing music that was far, far less 'cock rock'.

At one stage during the mid seventies - due to an 'administrative error' of tsunami-like proportions and bad luck - my entire  'record collection' consisted of the following cassette tapes: The Carpenters 1969-74, ChangesOneBowie and Abba's Arrival. Read into that what you will, but sitting in my bedroom with my less-than two hours of music was better than sitting in someone's backroom listening to Led Zeppelin 4 (or whatever the fuck it's called) watching some lad bashing John Bonham's imaginary 'skins', or waiting for him to say "Listen to this bit!", and then waiting an eternity for the 'bit' which consisted of some sort of 'lick' from Jimmy Page's 'axe'.
Anyway, just for nostalgia reasons, I quite like this record.
Even though it's shit.


"I'm not - but my boyfriends are!"

Abba - Does Your Mother Know?

I love ABBA. Always have done. Always will. DYMK? has a great melody, the usual brilliant production and a rousing chorus.

And is as creepy as fuck. 0/10

Earth Wind and Fire/The Emotions - Boogie Wonderland

I'm writing this during an insomnia bout in West Yorkshire. Back in 79, I started looking for universities. Where I came from in Anfield, there was a 0.3% take up for tertiary education, and my shitty, but prestigious working class grammar school was about as much use as a chocolate johnny when it came to advice on such matters.

And everything else as well.

It finally closed last year after 70 years of inflicting misery (and much worse) on its alumni and I was fucking made up. If only they'd have tactically nuked the site. Anyway, I followed my skinny heart and skinny girlfriend and ended up in 'some college' (now one of Britain's 'top' euphemersities, not unlike Edge Hill University) - before going to a proper university a year later.

My college was riddled with slack-jawed, aching simpletons and buffoons from Lancashire and Yorkshire - to complement its colourful array of tedious Liverpudlian stereotypes.

As time progressed, I began to recognise the differences in particular northern accents and learned how to distinguish a Yorkshire accent from its Lancastrian variants by its fairly unique double 'o' posturing in words like 'smooth', 'cool' and indeed 'boobs'.

A young lady from Bradford was once good enough to chat me up in the college bar. She was pleasant enough, but had "never heard" of any of the conversational curve ball starters I'd been pitching her.

"Nurr. Whoooooose Nurman Meurleur* when he's abaht?"

"Nurr. Whooooo ar't Hyoooooooman League?"

"Aye. Ave urrd o'cats, like. Us mam's got one."

She asked me what I was into - even though I'd just tried to tell her.

She asked me if I liked to dance.

What she actually said was: "Dusta lark t'boooooogeh?"

It's the single most unerotic thing I've ever heard.

A phenomenal record. 10/10

*Norman Mailer.

Peaches and Herb - Reunited

I was so 'in love' with a much older woman when this was a hit. She was eighteen to my seventeen, but I didn't care. Such were the joys of presumptive heteronormalcy. We finally copped off during this fabulous slowie.

She packed me in after about five weeks. I was genuinely devastated, acted like Romeo after he's binned by Mariana at the start of the play, behaved very badly and was expelled from school.

The implications of that last fact have (genuinely) just dawned on me. I was a teacher for 35 years and yet I'd been kicked out as a student for being naughty. It's a bit like the life and career of St Paul. Or Frank Lampard. Except that I was dead good* at teaching.

A few years later, the older woman - jealous of the fact that I'd been seeing her 'best friend' for a few years - took advantage of a "WE WERE ON A BREAK" hiatus, sloped in, and used my unresolved issues/barely adequate, crumbling psychic defences/inner sadness to revive the relationship.

We went out for about five weeks before I bade her goodbye. It was a 'spite relationship breakup' very much like Larry's 'spite coffee shop' in Curb Season 10.

It made me feel better for all of five minutes, and was so unlike me, but who knows their arse from their elbow when they're twenty years of age? Certainly not me.

Anyway,  I'm much older now and absolutely ripe for this sort of saccharine-heavy nonsense/shit, and 'Reunited' sounded pretty, pretteh good in a sort of many-decades-later retrospect.


*I know. Irony is a fickle mistress at the best of times.


'Peaches' (Linda Green, right) getting all smoochy with 'Herb' ('Herb', er, right) last week on my telly.


David Bowie - Boys Keep Swinging

My rather splendid performance poem (though I say so myself) It's Gary Numan, Dad was actually occasioned by David's cross-dressing video of this song, although I much prefer his performance on The Kenny Everett Video Show.

Never did any man look so beautiful in a suit.

If you're a bit of a Bowie obsessive, you'll know about Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies cards which led to 'the guys' swapping instruments on BKS to produce the brilliant fresh sound that never fails to raise my spirits or produce a wee blast of much needed serotonin when life gets me down.

Which is pretty much every fucking day.

A fabulous record. 10/10

M - Pop Muzik

Timeless and a work of genius. Bizarrely, its not my favourite M record (the sublime Moonlight and Muzak takes that dubious honour). Spookily, I'd bought the parent album on vinyl (£8) a few hours before Gambaccini did his best to spoil both this track and my day. 10/10



Roxy Music - Dance Away

A lot of critics don't rate RM Part 2; I love them almost as much RM1. I never, ever tire of this record, and one of the tiny joys of May 1979 was hearing the match that lit Bry's bifter spark into life in at the start of the track.

Many years ago I attended one of Bryan's solo gigs; he played innumerable, solo piano works and I was waiting for the gig to end so that I could go for a pint with my mate Jim (RIP). This was during the first big wave of mobile phone use and I'd bought my first 'cell' that very morning. And whilst Bry was playing another tedious track (from Mamounia or something) Jim - one of my TWO contacts - rang me. I knew I didn't know how to switch it off/put it on silent - and even if I did, I couldn't have done it without literally showing my hand, and thus facing the opprobrium of the captive, bored but polite audience.

So I did what whatever any decent person would do and kept the phone in my pocket and looked round with pursed lips and anger in my eyes trying to find 'the culprit'.

Doing a 'Begbie', in other words.

Eventually, the phone stopped, and life went on. I somehow managed to switch it off before it rang again, but Bryan had already Les Dawson'd the song.

Sorry, Bryan.


A pub in Halifax - 'Wes Derby' and Saint Vespaluus.

Blondie - Sunday Girl

Not up to their usual high standards (few things are), but an OK single nevertheless. The transition into French ("Dépêche-toi" etc) is rather charming and Sunday Girl sits nicely in third place in the Blondie number one singles 'cannon' - way behind the sublime Heart of Glass and Atomic in terms Blondie aceness, but miles ahead of the souless Call Me and the truly terrible Maria.



Gambaccini: fucking hell. 0/10

Show as a whole: Gambaccini, some terrible R2 promotion - including ads featuring Tony Blackburm and Sara Cox (who sounds a bit like Joe Gladwyn, but is nowhere near as sexy), and one or two misfire tracks ensure that this week's POTP isn't perfect, but the truly great records are incredible.

Almost joyous at times. 9/10

Worst: Abba, unfortunately.

Best: "Heaven loves you,

            The clouds part for you,

             Nothing stands in your way -

             When you're a boy!"


My, that took it out of me.

Back in the autumn.

And while you're here, I'm playing a solo gig at Jimmy's in Liverpool on August 29th.

Would love to see you there.

Here's the ticket link: