A T O M I C !
June 27, 2015 5:09 PM   Subscribe

 
This looks great, thanks!
posted by languagehat at 5:45 PM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


You had to be there... I was fifteen, and TOTP was a window into a world that was both far removed from the semi-rural daily life around me, and a big part of the shared experience of me and my peers. It was particularly exciting in 1980, because punk had happened (somewhere else, to be sure, but it had happened) and because there were so many new sounds sitting right next to the old, dull, mainstream pap.

Perhaps that's true for every generation. I'm sure it was when rock and roll turned up, and when the sixties happened. But my time had synthesisers and science-fiction, and it felt like the future was not only here but holding its own in a real circus of great songs written by so many colourful, idiosyncratic, characters. You could hear something seriously weird on John Peel and two months later it'd be up there in starburst filters and first-gen video effects on the telly. And then you could get together with your mates in a basement, one with a tape recorder, one who had a synth, one who had the Bowie records, and not only pretend to be OMD or Ultravox but see people not so different from you get their faces in front of millions with sounds not so different from the ones you made.

There is a reason I asked for a seriously madcap synth for my 50th birthday (Dominion 1, since you ask), and that reason is TOTP in 1980.

Watch out, world.

(I'm apparently 3rd in line to get my synth when the Italians finally manage to make the damn thing in sufficient numbers to deliver backorders to my dealer)
posted by Devonian at 6:05 PM on June 27, 2015 [16 favorites]


Whao, Phil Collins. With hair!
posted by buzzman at 6:24 PM on June 27, 2015


"This video contains content from SME, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds. "

thanks for nothing youtube and SME
posted by zog at 6:27 PM on June 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is a very TOTP-like experience on a meta-level in that you sit through the whole thing wondering if anyone good is going to be on ...
posted by carter at 6:34 PM on June 27, 2015 [10 favorites]


The thing people don't remember about 80s music is how thinly rationed out what we now think of as the cool bits of the 80s were, so you'd watch the show every week vaguely hoping that something good would be on.
posted by Artw at 6:40 PM on June 27, 2015 [13 favorites]


/jinx
posted by Artw at 6:40 PM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hmm hmmm Motorhead, Ace of Spades!
posted by buzzman at 6:53 PM on June 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


The muscianless pilot for new-style TotPs at about the 27minute mark is essential viewing.
posted by Artw at 6:56 PM on June 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Fake Leo Sayer bit is especially wonderful.
posted by item at 7:09 PM on June 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh good, St Winifred's School Choir.
posted by Artw at 7:22 PM on June 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


It MUST be noted from the first four minutes that despite his name, Rupert "Pina Colada" Holmes was absolutely NOT British.

But generally an excellent retrospective. Before 1980, my radio involvement was not very 'hit-music' oriented, but about then, I started writing 'comedy stuff' for a couple DJs at KROQ, L.A.'s "ROQ of the '80s" (it's slogan since 1977) as it went from just trying to be ahead of the next trend to becoming the home of 'novelty' rock acts like Devo, Oingo Boingo, Sparks and B-52s, as well as massive quantities of NewWave/NewRomantics/BritPop (more than you'd expect from an L.A. radio station). Hell yeah, they played "Turning Japanese" and Gary Numan's "Cars". But also Pink Floyd and John Lennon. OMD, Adam Ant and Duran Duran broke through in '81. But no Piranhas, definitely no Motörhead and absolutely no St. Winifred's Choir. (And oddly, not much Madness until "Our House")

Still, the evolution of pop music doesn't really fit comfortably into 'decades'. "Rock Around the Clock" was 1954 and Elvis hit a year later. The Beatles made it big in the UK in '63, and the US in '64. And weren't they what defined "the '50s" and "the 60s"?? So 1980 was probably a bigger deal for "Top of the Pops" than it was for Pop Music. Or Pop Musik.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:25 PM on June 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


That Gary Numan song is 🔥🔥🔥
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:40 PM on June 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


The pilot filmed during the musicians strike is really something. Especially "Leo Sayer."
posted by ob1quixote at 7:54 PM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I never saw this at the time, but I'm enjoying the nostalgia of the clothes and music.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:58 PM on June 27, 2015


Those 80s KROQ countdowns sure do bring back memories, oneswellfoop. Thanks for the link!
posted by Slothrup at 8:06 PM on June 27, 2015


Kudos to the drummer for Liquid Gold.
posted by not_on_display at 8:37 PM on June 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


So sad how home taping killed off the music industry in the 80's. It had such potential.
posted by Poldo at 8:50 PM on June 27, 2015 [17 favorites]


Argh, I would so like to see this - was an avid watcher of TOTP 1980-82 (ages 8-10) and it surely helped form me into the music aficionado I am today - but for some stupid reason it's blocked in Canada.
posted by Flashman at 11:35 PM on June 27, 2015


This is a very TOTP-like experience on a meta-level in that you sit through the whole thing wondering if anyone good is going to be on ...

And, of course, re-visiting the show adds the extra frisson of wondering not only "is anybody good going to be on?" but also "are they going to manage to manage to edit their way around all the footage of avuncular pederasts entrusted to perform and present it?"
posted by rongorongo at 2:13 AM on June 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


People who are interested in this era of music in the UK would probably also like "Synth Britannia". It covers the same 1970s to 1980s transition and tracks recorded between "Warm Leatherette" and "Blue Monday".
posted by rongorongo at 2:18 AM on June 28, 2015 [8 favorites]


The thing is, until I started mainlining Radio 1 at uni, while I was at school TOTP was just about the only thing you discovered music from. (Unless you were one of those weird kids who bought the NME or were a punk or something) When The Tube kicked off is was like a revolution.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:51 AM on June 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


avuncular pederasts

Pretty impressive unpersoning, not that I had any desire to see those nonces. I looked up who the second presenter was for Christmas 1980. Yep.
posted by topynate at 4:56 AM on June 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


That Synth Brittania movie is a fascinating piece of history revision where neither Duran Duran nor Suicide exist. Its like rewriting the story of punk so that the Sex Pistols are the beginning and end of it--oh the BBC does that too? Fun.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:14 AM on June 28, 2015


Don't know how they managed to talk Eurovision 1980, synths and disappearing orchestras without mentioning this.

Whao, Phil Collins. With hair!
I once mentioned on an e-mail to Al Lowe that if you stuck a polyester leisure suit on late 80s Phil Collins, you'd get Larry Laffer. He didn't disagree.
And speaking of look-alikes, I swear young Ray Dorset looks a Keegan-Michael Key character from Key and Peele.
posted by lmfsilva at 5:55 AM on June 28, 2015


Don't know how they managed to talk Eurovision 1980, synths and disappearing orchestras without mentioning this.
I love how Telex's performance is in a sort of transitional phase where they try to be all minimal - but still have one of the trio showing up off his proper piano skills by putting in something that sounds like it's from Widor's Toccatta and Fugue. They also did a wonderful version of Ca Plane Pour Moi a year earlier. Here they are in their studio back in the day.
posted by rongorongo at 10:05 AM on June 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Who is "Jenny", being interviewed at Pebble Mill, at 27:20?

Also: Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark and Human League don't get on! For some reason, this greatly tickles me.
posted by alasdair at 2:03 PM on June 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Who is "Jenny", being interviewed at Pebble Mill, at 27:20?

Is it Jenny Agutter?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:39 PM on June 28, 2015


I very much enjoyed this documentary when I caught it on TV . Like Devonian I’m old enough to have seen most of these shows when they first aired. I turned 12 in 1980, so TOTP would still have been my main source to all that was new in the world of music. It’s weird how much I remembered from that time versus those few things I’d completely forgotten about (The Human League covering Gary Glitter?).

I thought Jenny @ 27:20 might be Jenny Hanley.
posted by misteraitch at 1:35 AM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Jenny Hanley, thank you!
posted by alasdair at 2:12 AM on June 29, 2015


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