imageThis according to the Daily Mirror at the time anyway. So remember this as you are reading, this was a £2.5million chart show. A chart show which in this case was in danger of over-running its slot as we’ve played ten records already and still have to deal with three climbers before we can get to the Top 20. This unusual state of affairs was down to the events of the “lost” chart that preceded this one which saw what was for the time a phenomenal total of ten new entries all arrive on the Top 40. The following week they were all still upwardly mobile, the Mick Jagger and Jellybean singles already discussed being two of them. The next three all lined up together:

First another bit of hard sell from Bruno:

Looking at our computer, this has moved about a bit in the last 15 minutes. Steve Winwood now settles at…”

23: Steve Winwood – Valerie

Years before Eric Prydz and his barely dressed aerobics instructors there was this song. Valerie had begun life in 1982 as the lead track on Steve Winwood’s third solo album Taking Back The Night. Released as a single in October that year the track was a disappointment, peaking at Number 51. Five years later, and following Winwood’s career resurgence with Higher Love the previous year, it was decided to release a compilation album of some of his earlier solo work to capitalise. The album Chronicles featured a selection of older tracks with many, as was the fashion at the time, remixed to bring them slightly more up to date. One such track was Valerie which was handed to Tom Lord-Alge whose production on the Back In The High Life album (from which Higher Love was taken) was credited with propelling Winwood back to the top of the American charts. Lord-Alge’s transformation of the track was simple, adding some weight to the main synthesiser melody and beefing up the rest of the production with overdubbed drums, guitars and bass to make it sound a little less cheesy and dated. Valerie was duly transformed from the little-regarded flop it was originally into a global smash hit. The new version made Number 19 here and went Top 10 in America to boot. As most people reading this will recall, 17 years later the “call on me” clarion call of the song became the heart of Eric Prydz’s Number One smash hit with Winwood liking the idea so much he was only too happy to re-record the vocals once more to better fit the rhythm of the club track.

22: Steve Walsh – I Found Lovin’

If you were a soul music fan in London in the mid-1980s, chances are that you had attended one of Steve Walsh’s Soul Night Out club nights. In combination with his day job as a DJ on Radio London, the man who by his own admission was “larger than large and broader than Broadway” was an enthusiastic and popular club performer. His ability to work a crowd was legendary, and by all accounts you turned up as much to see the man perform and to be whipped into an enthusiastic frenzy as you did to dance to the records he was playing. By 1987 his appeal was so great that the idea was floated for Walsh to release his own records. Although not the greatest singer in the world, the songs he was performing were hardly the focus. What mattered was capturing on record the vibe of a Steve Walsh live show as he chanted along to the music, leading the crowd in chorus singalongs and the famous “you wot, you wot, you wot” chant borrowed from the Shed End crowd at Stamford Bridge.

The choice of single was an intriguing one, for I Found Lovin’ was for a long time considered the great lost hit record. Faded disco group the Fatback Band had first released the song in 1984, only to see it fall just short of the Top 40. A 1986 re-release fared similarly badly, peaking at Number 55 and apparently dooming the record to forever be a cult item. Hence the Steve Walsh version which had first been released earlier in the summer but which finally caught fire in late September and raced swiftly up the singles chart. It meant that the man himself was granted the chance to perform on Top Of The Pops and to their eternal credit the producers did the sensible thing and handed him a live mic. Walsh effortlessly turned the studio into a live gig, in three and a half minutes creating a better atmosphere and having more fun than anyone normally managed by just miming. With the record more or less impossible to find these days, it is the perfect chance to show the Top Of The Pops performance here, the soundtrack switching between the recording and Walsh doing what he did best, interacting with his audience.

Sadly the Steve Walsh story has a rather unhappier ending. Whilst working in Ibiza in the summer of 1988 and filming the video for a follow-up single (a version of Ain’t No Stopping Us Now) he broke his leg in a car crash and upon returning to the UK for treatment suffered complications relating to his physical size. On July 4th 1988 he died of a heart attack just a few months short of his 30th birthday. The fondness with which he is remembered is echoed in the comments left on the many videos of him on YouTube. On one original upload of I Found Lovin’ was a comment from a lady who identified herself as his daughter. She was barely weeks old when he died and confessed to being touched by the many warm comments about the father she never had the chance to know.

Back to I Found Lovin’ though, and a more bizarre postscript is yet to come.

21: Erasure – The Circus

Maybe not the most obvious or most fondly remembered Erasure track of all time, but it was released at a time when they were white-hot as chart stars. As a result of the rather bleak, downbeat title track from their second album effortlessly became their third Top 10 hit, following hard on the heels of Victim Of Love which had charted earlier in the summer. The release of the single coincided with the release of a remix album The Two Ring Circus but even bigger success was to come in 1988 with third album The Innocents – due for a 20th-anniversary re-release as we speak.

20: Bruce Springsteen – Brilliant Disguise

A watershed moment for The Boss, this single marking the moment he parted company temporarily with the E-Street Band and released the darker, more reflective Tunnel Of Love album which reflected his state of mind as his marriage to Julianne Phillips declined and dissolved. Brilliant Disguise was one such track, a melancholy track about never really being able to understand or know someone and a world away from the stadium-filling atmosphere of the Born In The USA album which had preceded it. Indeed the whole Tunnel Of Love album represents such a bleak episode in Springsteen’s life, few if any of its tracks are performed by him today. Strangely enough Brilliant Disguise wasn’t the biggest hit from Tunnel Of Love, that honour reserved for Tougher Than The Rest which reached Number 13 in June 1988.

We skip the next few songs to finally get the show back on schedule, so the identities of positions 19 and 18 will remain a mystery, unless you look at the playlist linked at the bottom where I’ve included as many as are available.

17: T’Pau – Heart And Soul

A pleasant surprise as I’d forgotten this was played on this show. Falling away after a good chart run that saw it peak at Number 4, this was the debut hit single for the ever yummy Carol Decker and her band. The single had flopped on initial UK release and only became a hit after it became a surprise US hit in the summer of 1987. I’ve always thought it a shame that the chart-topping success of China In Your Hand overshadowed this single for it is far and away one of the cleverest, most lovingly constructed rock tracks ever made. The main lyric of the song is actually the spoken monologue that continues throughout, the sung vocals really existing as a counterpoint to the underlying melody, despite being the lead focus of the mix. The moment when Carol Decker’s spoken and sung voices dovetail together on the final “can’t you even try to..” climax before the chorus remains one of my favourite moments on a pop record ever.

16: Gary Numan – Cars (‘E’ Reg Model)

I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a song whose original author has recycled it as many times as Gary Numan has with Cars. The track that marked his transformation from the rather daft “Tubeway Army” persona to proper solo star first hit Number One in 1979 and established the flying ace as a superstar of the turn of the decade. By the late 80s the hits had largely dried up and even the Sharpe and Numan collaboration and a series of singles released alongside Radio Heart had failed to help. To support the hits collection Exhibition a double-sided re-release of his two early chart-toppers was planned, both tracks being remixed in respectful fashion to bring them up to date. The comically titled “E-reg model” (1987 issue you see) version of Cars proved a smash and motored so to speak to this Top 20 placing, giving Numan his biggest hit for five years and allowing him to put in a tour de force Top Of The Pops performance to his obvious joy.

Re-releasing Cars turned out to be habit-forming. The track reappeared in new mixes in both 1993 (Number 53) and 1996 (Number 17).

15: Fatback Band – I Found Lovin’

Well, who would have guessed? The appearance of the Steve Walsh remake of the track in the summer of 1987 prompted the Fatback Band’s own record label to have one last go at turning the three-year-old recording into a hit. In one of those strange accidents of timing, the original version arrived on the Top 40 in the same week as the Walsh track and both singles rose and fell up the chart contemporaneously. Not since the 1960s had the charts seen such a duelling battle of covers, and for the most part the original had the edge. This week the two singles were 15 and 22, following this chart Walsh was at 9 and the Fatback Band were at 7, giving them far and away their biggest UK hit ever a full 11 years after cheesy disco novelty (Do The) Spanish Hustle) hit Number 10.

14: Karel Fialka – Hey Matthew

An intriguing novelty hit that arrived on the chart via the relentless plugging of then Radio One breakfast show host Mike Smith. Multi-instrumentalist and “street poet” Karel Fialka was destined to remain a one-hit-wonder after his 1980 minor chart entry The Eyes Have It until he recorded this poignant track. Framed as a narrative conversation with his six-year-old stepson Matthew the real-life child responded innocently to the singer’s probing questions about “when you’re watching TV, what do you see?” and “Hey Matthew, what will you be?” with an innocent monologue about his favourite shows and career aspirations. As the haunting backing faded out Matthew is heard to intone “it’s all a game… I hope…. I hope..”. One of those records that is as diverting 20 years on as it was back then, it raced to a Top 10 placing and gave hope that the long-stalled career of Karel Fialka would, at last, be on a sound footing. 22 years on we still await the follow-up.

13: Johnny Hates Jazz – I Don’t Want To Be A Hero

I have to confess I never really warmed to Johnny Hates Jazz, despite the slickness of their late 80s pop and the suitable level of critical respect they attracted. I Don’t Want To Be A Hero was their second chart single, a worthy sounding plea for pacifism and tolerance which peaked at Number 11 in late September. Their career was characterised by the odd way in which Virgin Records delayed releasing their debut album Turn Back The Clock until early 1988, almost a year after their first chart hit. By then the momentum was lost and the group was breaking up anyway as lead singer Clark Datchler announced he was quitting. He was replaced by Phil Thornally, best known at the time for being bass player in The Cure for a brief cup of coffee and the man who presumably never has to work again having co-written Torn for Natalie Imbruglia and others.

We’ve more or less got all the information we need now, just a little bit of movement around the Top 10 and we’ll reveal that to you just as soon as it is ready for the air.” 

12: Kiss – Crazy Crazy Nights

Ah, Kiss. Massive stars in the 70s and early 80s thanks to their elaborate stage shows and the famous gimmick of never being seen out of makeup. Well yes, in America at least. On these shores they never really broke into the mainstream and for all the talk of how early recordings such as I Was Made For Lovin’ You and Creatures Of The Night are rock classics, they never became huge hits here. In fact, prior to 1987 the group had a grand total of two Top 40 hits to their name, with post-makeup 1983 single Lick It Up being the biggest at Number 31. True international success did not arrive until the release of Crazy Crazy Nights. Its lead track was an infectious and intoxicating singalong rock anthem which pressed so many commercial buttons it could hardly fail to set the world alight. Within weeks of release it had raced to Number 4, the label producing the extraordinary statistic that it had outsold all the other UK Kiss singles put together. Yes, on the face of thing it is just four minutes of naff 80s hair metal, but to many a teenager at the time it sounded like the greatest party record ever made.

11: House Master Boyz – House Nation

Received wisdom would have you believe that the House revolution hit the UK in early 1988 and whilst it is true that the big wave of club hits that would change the face of dance music forever did indeed invade the charts around the time, the first stirrings of a dramatic new sound emerging from America’s east coast had begun some time before. Farley Jackmaster Funk’s Love Can’t Turn Around is widely credited as having been the first House track to reach the Top 40 in December 1986 and it was swiftly followed by Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley and Jack Your Body which topped the chart in early 1987. In the autumn came this minimalist house track, actually produced by a team of Brits who had found labels in Chicago more receptive to the music they were trying to create. Although a Top 10 hit, House Nation seemed to come and go almost without comment, perhaps largely due to the record topping the charts at the same time. Naturally, we will come to that in due course…