Random Acts of Top of the Pops: #5 – February 25th, 1988

Episode Number: 1250
First Shown: 7.00pm on February 25th, 1988
Presenter(s): Peter Powell and Mark Goodier
Official Top 40: @The Official Charts
Studio: BBC Television Centre
iPlayer: Top of the Pops – February 25th, 1988
BBC Genome: Here!

Top of the Tops logo from February 25th, 1988


After our jaunt to the cold of February 1994, it’s time to slip six years back to the equally freezing wastelands of February 1988. Yes, pop pickers, it’s time for another Random Acts of Top of the Pops!


Crash / Primitives (In the Studio)
Chart Place: 29

Crash / Primitives (In the Studio) - Top of the Pops (February 25th, 1988)

And tonight we open with a nice piece of what, a decade or so later, would have slipped nicely under the pop-punk banner and appeared in every millennial American Pie rip-off known to man. Song-wise, a strong baseline backs up a selection of upbeat, catchy lyrics well presented by both band and singer. Tracy Cattell’s Myra Hindley/Marilyn Monroe getup would probably cause something of a furore today, but then, with this song and with her firm stage-owning presence, it works particularly well and only adds to the strength of this opening number.

Over the next four weeks Crash would rise 24 places to number #5, before sinking and finally exiting the charts at the end of April 1988.

Suedehead / Morrissey (Via Music Video)
Chart Place: 6

Suedehead / Morrissey (Via Music Video)  - Top of the Pops (February 25th, 1988)
Morrissey, brooding. This time with a book.

And onto our second song of the evening – Morrissey’s Suedehead. A pop-ish piece of music is somewhat ruined by Morrissey morosely droning about an unseen agent (possibly a former lover) interfering with his life and refusing to leave him alone. This is all presented over a video of Morrissey visiting Fairmount, Indiana – both the boyhood home and final resting place of the actor James Dean – where he spends an awful lot of time brooding and stomping around the small, snow covered community. This is something of an oddity in itself – Dean does not feature in the lyrics to the song and a cynical person may suspect that the video’s James Dean theme may have it’s roots in a desire for a tax deductible jolly for either Morrissey or one of Morrissey’s team.

And now onto a non-exhaustive list of places Morrissey broods in this video:

  • On Fairmount high street.
  • In the bath
  • Whilst sat in a diner
  • Whilst sat on an Indian-brand motorcycle
  • Loitering in an empty office
  • In a barn (with a book!)
  • By some concrete
  • Whilst driving on a tractor (looking slightly scared)
  • Whilst holding a dog
  • While playing some bongos next to a heard of cows
  • Next to James Dean’s grave…
  • …in the snow.

Next week Morrissey, Suedehead, and Morrissey’s quiff would rise one place to number #5 before dropping down the chart and exiting at the start of April.

Joe Le Taxi / Vanessa Paradis (In the Studio)
Chart Place: 14

Joe Le Taxi / Vanessa Paradis (In the Studio)  - Top of the Pops (February 25th, 1988)
Apparently Joe le Taxi is not the French for high waisted jeans…

Next up is Vanessa Paradis with Joe Le Taxi, a French language Jazz-pop piece that’s not afraid to splash out on the saxophones. Reasonably slow, Joe Le Taxi has something of the the feel of background music to it – certainly there, but not fully competing for your attention and, in the modern age of smart phones, unlikely to ever fully receive it. Indeed, about the only thing you can say about Joe Le Taxi is that it exists and, beyond that, it tries it best not to trouble the listener with such trivial emotions as dislike, like, or even interest.

During mid-March Joe Le Taxi would peak at number #3 before leaving the chart towards the end of April.

Together Forever / Rick Astley (A Breakers Clip)
Chart Place: 9

Together Forever / Rick Astley (A Breakers Clip) - Top of the Pops (February 25th, 1988)
“Would you like to open a children’s savings account? Join the NatWest today!”

With Together Forever a very young looking Rick Astley sings along to Casio keyboard preset number four (synth with baseline, moderate tempo). The song lyrics are based around fairly standard declarations of eternal, unchallengeable, unbreakable love and the video splits itself between shots of Astley dancing in front of a colourful background and calling the woman of his dreams on the phone. The whole thing is inoffensively formulaic and only partially redeemed by a reasonably catchy chorus.

Together Forever would reach no. 2 during mid March before exiting the chart at the end of April 1988.

Dominion / The Sisters Of Mercy (A Breakers Clip)
Chart Place: 17

Dominion / The Sisters Of Mercy (A Breakers Clip) - Top of the Pops (February 25th, 1988)

And more synths with The Sisters of Mercy and Dominion. Cut short to fit a breakers slot, this New Wave/Goth piece is pretty much reduced to the band chanting “Dominion” over shots of Petra and various other bits of stock Jordanian Tourist Board footage. Alas, reduced to so little, it ultimately fails to impress.

In early March of 1988 Dominion would peak a no 13 before dropping out of the charts in early April.

C’mon Everybody / Eddie Cochran (A Breakers Clip)
Chart Place: 19

C’mon Everybody / Eddie Cochran (A Breakers Clip) - Top of the Pops (February 25th, 1988)
Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison Eddie Cochran on the The Dick Clark Show

And now onto another very specific genre of song – and one that’s entirely new to Random Acts… – songs that gain a second life due to reuse in adverts. The product? Levi 501s. The song? Eddie Cochran’s 1959 hit C’mon Everybody.

A reissue (Cochran having died in 1960 at the age of just 21) rather than a re-recoding, both the song and the video appear to have been extracted from deep within the archives of the The Dick Clark Show. Cochran, trapped between the camera and a wall of young teens (all of whom are adorned with the IFIC logo badge of the Dick Clark Show sponsoring Beech Nut Gum Company and all of whom are manically munching on said gum companies core product), frantically plays this rock and roll piece as if his life depended on it. And perhaps it did. Perhaps the only thing stopping Cochran from being eaten alive by this hoard of teens was their wads of gum and fondness for rock and roll? We may never really know…

A catchy piece of authentic Rock and Roll, it’s not only easy to see why it performed well on both it’s original release and, some 29 years later, on it’s re-release but also why Levi’s may have wished to piggyback off that intrinsic rock and roll authenticity with their 1988 advertising campaign.

In 1959 C’mon Everybody made it as high as number 6 in the UK charts. In March 1988 this re-issue would peak as high as number 14 before slipping down and out of the top 100 by the start of April.

When We Was Fab / George Harrison (A Breakers Clip)
Chart Place: 25

When We Was Fab / George Harrison (A Breakers Clip)  - Top of the Pops (February 25th, 1988)
Anything is better than Mull of Kintyre. Even this.

Next up is George Harrison and When We Was Fab. The second former Beatle the grace the shores of Random Acts, Harrison makes a much better show of things than McCartney did with Mull of Kintyre – though that’s not a particularly hard river to cross.

When We Was Fab is a psychedelic pop throwback harking back to Harrison’s earlier Beatles days. Both the lyrics and music miss the mark and the song feels more like a mediocre tribute to the Beatles than a proper freestanding piece. The video has Harrison dressed as a busker visited by a number of fellow celebrities including both Ringo Star (of Thomas the Tank Engine fame) and Elton John – all of whom are doing him something of a favour by just turning up.

This episode’s chart place of no. 25 marks a high water mark for When We Was Fab with the song going on to leave the charts at the end of March 1998.

Tower Of Strength / The Mission (In the Studio)
Chart Place: 12

Tower Of Strength / The Mission (In the Studio) - Top of the Pops (February 25th, 1988)
Strong on Emoting, Strong on the Causes of Emoting.

And onto out second goth (ish) piece of the evening; Tower Of Strength by The Mission. A Goth-rock ode to co-dependancy, Tower Of Strength’s lyrics lay it all firmly out on the floor; the singer can only cope if you – the un-named lover – shoulder the entire burden of their existence. Produced by a former member of Led Zepplin, the fact the detuned guitars have more than a hint of a poor man’s Kashmir is both not surprising and not to be welcomed. Also unwelcome is the unrepentant hard core emoting from the lead singer that infected both verse and chorus.

I did, however, somewhat enjoy the bridge.

Next week Tower Of Strength would slide up one spot to number 12 before slipping away and exiting the chart at the beginning of April.

Gimme Hope Jo’anna / Eddy Grant (In the Studio)
Chart Place: 8

Gimme Hope Jo’anna / Eddy Grant (In the Studio) - Top of the Pops (February 25th, 1988)

Our next piece opens up with possibly the four most worrying words to show up in a TOTP introduction – “…with a great message”.

And yet Eddy Grant’s Gimme Hope Jo’anna manages to overcome any initial worries Peter Powell’s introduction may have brought us. A reggae anti-Apartheid piece build around strong lyrics and a catchy chorus, Gimme Hope Jo’anna seems to intrinsically understand that the best protest songs, the ones that go the furthest and leave the best mark for the causes they wish to support, must be a complete package – lyrics, tune, performance, and message. Break Gimme Hope Jo’anna into those standalone pieces and no element is lacking and combined they produce a very strong piece.

This week would mark Gimme Hope Jo’anna’s high point in the charts and, after 12 weeks, Gimme Hope Jo’anna would slide out of the charts in mid April.

I Should Be So Lucky / Kylie Minogue (Via Music Video)
Chart Place: 1

I Should Be So Lucky / Kylie Minogue (Via Music Video) - Top of the Pops (February 25th, 1988)
That better bloody be Scott!

And responsibility for the penultimate track of the night falls to Kylie Minogue (the pop-culture zeitgeist not yet having amputated Kylie of the ‘Minogue’ element of her name) and a piece straight out of the long traditions of bubblegum pop. Built around a catchy synth riff and a simple, almost infectious, chorus, I Should Be So Lucky was catnip to an element of the British population that had already become hooked on Neighbours in general and the story of Charlene and Scott in particular. The lyrics themselves are not particularly deep but they are optimistic and infectious and, when linked to Kylie’s sunny Australian accent, left a distinct impression that summer happiness was just around the corner – just the thing for anyone trapped in a grey February in 1988!

And the music video? Whilst obviously very cheaply and quickly shot – at one point the camera has such an obvious tilt that, had Kylie been a bigger act or had there been more time, it would likely have either been reshot or just had an alternative take available – and riddled with with poor quality green screen, it still managed to embody the chase romance that was the hallmark of early evening Australian TV dramas and Neighbours in particular.

Is I Should Be So Lucky high art? No, but of the things is set out to do, it manages to do all of them very, very well and I Should Be So Lucky’s chart performance reflects that.

After this week I Should Be So Lucky would claim four more number one spots before finally leaving the charts in May of 1988.

Hazy Shade Of Winter / Bangles (Via Music Video)
Chart Place: 20

Hazy Shade Of Winter / Bangles (Via Music Video) - Top of the Pops (February 25th, 1988)

Our final piece of the evening is a cover of Hazy Shade Of Winter performed by The Bangles. A soundtrack piece from the movie Less than Zero, this soft-rock piece has a by-the-numbers kind of competency that neither particularly offends or enthuses the listener – especially in comparison to the Primitives opening piece. It’s very hard to imagine someone sitting through the credits just to hear one more second and, with that, it fails as a suitable piece to lead out the show.

This week marks the peak of the Hazy Shade Of Winter‘s march up the chart and, by mid April, it will have exited the chart forever.


Charts Logo - Top of the Pops (February 25th, 1988)

This week’s tracks, ranked:

  1. Crash / Primitives 
  2. C’mon Everybody / Eddie Cochran
  3. I Should Be So Lucky / Kylie Minogue
  4. Gimme Hope Jo’anna / Eddy Grant 
  5. Together Forever / Rick Astley 
  6. Suedehead / Morrissey
  7. When We Was Fab / George Harrison
  8. Hazy Shade Of Winter / Bangles 
  9. Tower Of Strength / The Mission
  10. Joe Le Taxi / Vanessa Paradis 
  11. Dominion / The Sisters Of Mercy


Peter Powell and Mark Goodier  - Top of the Pops (February 25th, 1988)

On the whole, February 25th, 1988 proved to be a reasonable week with four good tracks – including one from Kylie that would go on to be (almost) emblematic of the second half of the decade – and nothing egregiously awful. Eddy Grant showed us that a protest piece could actually be a decent song in it self and Levis showed us they had the ability to bring back someone from the dead. The eleven featured tracks felt neither too rushed or too drawn out and the presenting duo of Peter Powell and Mark Goodier allowed a nice combination of announcements and introductions without it feeling quite as formulaic as some other episodes.

Next Time: Join me as we jump forward to June 4th, 1992!


Produced Card - Top of the Pops (February 25th, 1988)

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