Top of The Pops: The Story of 1989 Jan 6, 2020 11:10:45 GMT Gene Hunt, The Saint, and 6 more like this
Post by Dirty Epic on Jan 6, 2020 11:10:45 GMT
I watched this over the weekend and on the whole mostly enjoyed it
Yes I was selective on what I watched and kept from this programme and the blandness of ‘80’s pop was in evidence but change was happening in the aftermath of the Acid House ‘Summer of Love’ in ’88 and those at the opposite end of this were starting to look a little out of place by the end of ‘89.
Kicking off (I suppose the bad) was a retrospective of Jason Donovan’s career and the S/A/W thing up to that point. I was sort of left not knowing whether to warm to him or hate him… he did claim to like bands like New Order and The Cure but was unapologetic about the route his pop career he took with S/A/W etc. Best to say I’m not a fan as that whole Kylie and Jason thing and his solo career I thought was sugarcoated tosh back then and still do! I see him as one of many S/A/W marketable products and boy they did get their money’s worth out of him while they could! S/A/W were still riding quite high in early ’89 but when they churned out almost identikit tracks in addition to Rick Astley, Kyle and Jason by say Sonia, Big Fun, Bananarama and even (cough) Cliff Richard and Pat n Mick (sic), the backlash began and as Happy Monday’s Shaun Ryder put fairly well… “the early stuff wasn’t to bad but by the time they turned it all into a machine!…”
Change was happening (see later) and S/A/W began to look increasingly out of step by late ’89 by a slew of Dance acts which could not only make and produce their records but break them in the clubs (and Rave’s) which S/A/W artists (by nature) couldn’t do. It was interesting that S/A/W would incorporate – albeit in a much diluted style, some of the Dance sounds and style for their productions in the early ‘90’s before they sort of petered out around 1991-ish. Still despite this 'backlash' quite a lot of S/A/W produced acts were rightly or wrongly successful and got lapped up by the public in ’89 and you still got some right turds in topping the charts that year too – particularly so Jive Bunny (sic). Apologies to anyone here who liked that but it’s probably the worst example of ‘80’s music IMHO. I don’t get it’s appeal and why anyone would like it let alone go out and buy it back then. They also probably kept some decent tracks off the top spot too but novelty songs hitting Number 1 weren’t new then and are still around now but sometimes you just think… why?
Surprised Black Box who had 1989’s biggest selling single with the somewhat controversial Ride On Time weren’t featured.
Like M/A/R/R/S Pump Up The Volume a little over a year earlier it’s use of samples caused controversy – pretty much it chops up the vocals of Loleatta Holloway’s Love Sensation and passes it off as being sung by their singer (sic) and French model Katrin Quinol. However producer Daniele Davoli has appeared on other documentaries to discuss the track? I suppose you can’t squeeze everything in but this and a few other acts/things are glaring omissions from this show.
The ‘Rave’ scene was skirted around covered very quickly. It’s probably fair to say the House/Dance tracks charting in ’89 were either not representative of what was truly happening in that scene or if they were they were one off track’s which would hit the top of the charts then disappear after a moment in the sun. I also think this music got more of it’s own identity in the 1990-94 period too when a lot of different things and ideas happened and new styles emerged and matured! That said Gerald Simpson (A Guy Called Gerald) and 808 State who had two of the biggest Dance tracks of ’89 could easily have featured here and again this was somewhat rushed and glossed over when you consider how much power the early Rave scene was having on youth culture and it's music scene that year, then on/off for about a decade or so later! Being 14/15 back then I sadly never did these Rave’s like Sunrise or Biology or clubs like The Hacienda, Quadrant Park, Shelley’s etc. However I’d been into that music a good couple of years by then and most likely would have done if I was old enough back then.
Sort of related to this were Coldcut and their involvement with launching the career of Lisa Stansfield. It was interesting Lisa Stansfield had been knocking around the music and TV presenter scene for a while and had tried a pop career as part of ‘Blue Zone’ in 1987 who infamously released the single ‘On Fire’ the week of the tragic Kings Cross Tube fire. However like they did with Yazz a year earlier Coldcut had a knack of making a star out of their singer and ‘People Hold On’ is still one of the reasonably good poppier Dance hits from ’89. Lisa’s subsequent solo career I can take or leave but generally she’s reasonably okay-ish with a few turkey’s thrown in here or there. Coldcut themselves would become a much different animal from the mid ‘90’s too with their more Breaks, Big Beat and electronic influenced style and their own Ninja Tune label seeming lightyears away from what they did with Yazz, Lisa Stansfield and others in the late ‘80’s. Despite this they still seem very happy to talk about their earlier work here and as cheesy as these early Dance tracks sound they did give impetus to the more innovative stuff that Coldcut/Hex/Ninja Tune and many, many others did a few years later in the ‘90’s.
Another act with connections to the Dance scene was Soul II Soul. I don’t necessarily like everything they’ve done but Keep On Movin’/Back To Life and the Club Classics Volume One album are classics which I still enjoy more than 30 years later. I can see their point about not performing on TOTP when the producer got all arsey about having them miming to the backing track and not doing a live vocal for Back To Life… that would have been a good performance but hey ho!
Naturally we come to the best bit for me was the review of The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays appearance on 23rd November 1989. This blog actually puts things about that performance much better than I can but let’s say it was the beginning of the end of the ‘80’s and the new era of the ‘90’s for me and many others who watched that back then.
It was interesting that Shaun Ryder and to a lesser extent Jazzie B/Soul II Soul had run-in’s with the then producer of TOTP. As mentioned in the show yes they wanted the format quicker, slicker and less resistance from the artists and they were competing with ITV’s video based The Chart Show and MTV which had arrived via Sky who turned up around that time. However I definitely see Soul II Soul’s point over the live vocal and as for the so called power trip and ‘know who I am!’ run in the producer had with the Mondays Shaun Ryder… :bandhead: Mind you surprised Shaun could remember any of that back than… Good job TOTP's producer didn't get on the wrong side of Tony Wilson.
I was surprised no one from the Roses was interviewed for this? Yes I can see why Ian Brown/John Squire would have probably given this the swerve but Mani is usually reasonably approachable and has done various other music programmes for BBC unless The Roses recent reformation/split has all ended a bit acrimoniously for them all again...?
Also if you were in or near the Granada region from say 1987 onwards you’d have most likely heard of The Mondays, Roses and many other Factory and ‘Madchester’ acts through Tony Wilson and his links to Granada back then. Definitely remember seeing them on The Other Side of Midnight etc. in the summer of ’88 a year or so before they hit TOTP!
I think sometimes that appearance is maybe over-eulogised and they and many other indie/’Madchester’ bands were knocking around and building a profile before the Roses and Mondays appeared on TOTP. However as with many things it was a game changer and I think it paved the way for what was to happen in the 90’s and pretty much the likes of say The Charlatans, Insprial Carpets, Primal Scream, James, Underworld, Orbital, The Chemical Brothers and in particular the Dance and Britpop scenes and specifically the Blur and Oasis thing wouldn’t have happened or happened in quite the same way without ‘Madchester’ in my opinion.
Well we now have the 1989 repeats to enjoy. I suppose for some if you like the ‘80’s music/scene and the period as a whole you might not like what 1989 has on offer for you and the unified pop scene of the decade pre-88 is starting to split up into separate little tribes like Hip Hop, Dance, House, Rave, Indie, Madchester and Rock which they hadn’t really done up to that point and would be even more evident in the 90’s. For me though 1989 does point the way to something new, something different which on the most part I liked being a part of.
Bring on the 90’s. Although TOTP was probably the least representative music programme for that period!