The Greatest TOTP episode ever

The greatest Top Of The Pops episode ever was in 1980 and my memory of it was wrong. I was absolutely convinced Kraftwerk were on it but having done some research it would appear they weren’t. There were, however, a load of songs that I loved (and some I really, really didn’t, but TOTP was always like that). I think it was the 13th March 1980 episode, which ran as follows:

(23) Rush – Spirit Of Radio (and charts) *
(39) The Dooleys – Love Patrol
(6) The Police – So Lonely (video) *
(20) The Detroit Spinners – Working My Way Back To You – Forgive Me Girl (Medley) (danced to by Legs & Co)
(25) Brothers Johnson – Stomp (video)
(40) Secret Affair – My World
(14) Liquid Gold – Dance Yourself Dizzy
(5) Rainbow – All Night Long (video) *
(8) The Vapors – Turning Japanese *
(36) Siouxsie & The Banshees – Happy House *
(18) The Gibson Brothers – Cuba
(4) Peter Gabriel – Games Without Frontiers (video) *
(3) Marti Webb – Take That Look Off Your Face
(35) Genesis – Turn It On Again *
(1) Fern Kinney – Together We Are Beautiful
(7) Captain & Tenille – Do That To Me One More

They were confusing times. I liked Punk and I liked Prog and it was illegal, or something, to do that. There are 7 songs on the show that I liked, 7 was a lot, 2 or 3 was the usual. I’m convinced Peter Gabriel appeared on the show and it wasn’t a video but I looked it up and his only ever appearance on the show was two months later with a different song (No Self Control) so I’m pretty sure this is the right episode.

I was at a friends house and had to watch it on a little portable TV in his parents bedroom as they were watching something else on the big TV downstairs. Despite definitely having watched this episode there are songs I really don’t remember at all, such as ‘Stomp’ by The Brothers Johnson and ‘Dance Yourself Dizzy’ by Liquid Gold. There are also songs I didn’t know I remembered, like ‘Cuba’ by The Gibson Brothers and ‘Together we are beautiful’ by Fern Kinney. Memory is a delicate thing.

Here is that Top Of the Pops reconstructed for your viewing and listening pleasure (some of the performances aren’t from that actual dates show but from the one before or after but it’s near enough, oh, and the way they included Rush is really very disappointing)

So it may not be the greatest TOTP ever, but it was pretty good apart from Steve Wright being on at and being dick, at least there was no Jimmy Saville, the scumbag. .

Top 25 Rush Songs


This began as a Top 10, but I couldn’t manage it and ended up at 23, then things got out of hand and the Top 25 I was aiming for doubled. These are from my perspective and there are probably some notable omissions that, if I’d thought of them, should have been included. Anyway, here we go with 50 down to 26:

50 Cut to the Chase – Counterparts
49 Finding My Way – Rush
48 Stick It Out – Presto
47 Witch Hunt, Part III of Fear – Moving Pictures
46 Different Strings – Permanent Waves
45 Force Ten – Hold Your Fire
44 The Big Money – Power Windows
43 Digital Man – Signals
42 Distant Early Warning – Grace Under Pressure
41 Bravado – Roll The Bones
40 The Pass – Presto
39 Time Stand Still – Hold Your Fire
38 The Enemy Within, Part I of Fear – Grace Under Pressure
37 Countdown Signals
36 Animate – Counterparts
35 One Little Victory – Vapor Trails
34 Manhattan Project – Power Windows
33 New World Man – Signals
32 Finding My Way – Rush
31 Circumstances – Hemispheres
30 Lakeside Park – Caress Of Steel
29 A Passage To Bangkok – 2112
28 A Farewell To Kings – A Farewell To Kings
27 By-Tor & The Snow Dog – Fly By Night
26 Driven – Test for Echo

Here are the Top 50 videos as decided by me but open to persuasion in case I missed something:

Rush Top 50 Songs

25 Anthem – Fly By Night
24 Prime Mover – Hold Your Fire
23 Working Man – Rush
22 Entre Nous – Permanent Waves
21 Fly By Night – Fly By Night
20 Closer To The Heart – A Farewell To Kings
19 Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage – A Farewell To Kings
18 The Camera Eye – Moving Pictures
17 Jacob’s Ladder – Permanent Waves
16 Red Sector A – Grace Under Pressure
15 The Analogue Kid – Signals
14 Bastille Day – Caress Of Steel
13 The Trees – Hemispheres
12 Freewill – Permanent Waves
11 YYZ – Moving Pictures


10 Vital Signs – Moving Pictures
9 La Villa Strangiato (An Exercise In Self Indulgence)
8 Red Barchetta – Moving Pictures
7 Natural Science – Permanent Waves
6 Xanadu – A Farewell To Kings
5 2112 – 2112
4 Subdivisions – Signals
3 Limelight – Moving Pictures
2 The Spirit Of Radio – Permanent Waves

1 Tom Sawyer – Moving Pictures

Top Ten Live Rock Albums Ever

This, of course, is entirely from my own perspective and others will have completely different opinions but as I sit here listening to Side 1 of a vinyl copy of ‘All The Worlds A Stage’ by Rush, I got to thinking, what are my top ten? So here goes:

10: Blackfoot – Highway Song

9: Kiss – Alive!

8 : Lynyrd Skynyrd – One More From The Road

7: Status Quo – Live!

6: Motorhead – No Sleep Til Hammersmith

5: Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains The Same

4: Genesis – Seconds Out

3: AC/DC – If You Want Blood

2: Rush – All The Worlds A Stage

1: UFO – Strangers In The Night

And there we have it. I know there are what might be considered essential albums that are omitted, but these are the ones that I have the most affection for, from that time when arguing about this sort of thing as a teenager was a great way to pass the time and a wonderful reason to listen to them all again.

Here is a compilation of tracks from the albums above in descending order:

Not necessarily from the albums mentioned, as they are a bit old, before youtube was even a twinkle in its creators eye, but closeish to when the albums were originally released.

Here’s what I thought about but didn’t include, let’s call them honourable mentions or something:

Judas Priest – Unleashed In The East
Rush – Exit Stage Left
Thin Lizzy – Live & Dangerous
Deep Purple – Made In Japan
Yes – Yessongs
Queen – Live Killers
Free – Live
Rainbow – On Stage

The Discery

I found myself in Birmingham yesterday on an unplanned dress shopping trip, not for me but for Pip. I managed to duck out about 4 hours in and visit a used vinyl store that had been on regional news a few weeks earlier, it’s called ‘The Discery’ and has been there just short of forever, apparently. It was a 12 minute walk from the Bull Ring and easy to find. 

I was, if I’m honest, somewhat disappointed with what was in stock, not because of the volume, there was loads, but because there wasn’t much in my area of interest. I did manage to pick up three albums in nice condition but only one of those was I really looking for. I did get rather over excited when I found a copy of ‘The Tumbler’ by John Martyn, until I saw the price tag of £150. If anybody had been watching my expression they would have seen first joy and then despondency in the matter of a second. 

The vast majority of the vinyl there is old, things like ‘The Buddy Guy Orchestra’ or ‘Mario Lanza’ not my thing at all, but I did enjoy flicking through several racks, and the smell of the place, and the people were nice. 

I bought a self titled Robbie Robertson album, Fellow Hoodlums by Deacon Blue and Presto by Rush. For £20 I was quite pleased with that. 

Here’s some pictures of the place:


What’s in the bag? (23)

Back with Rush again, and that gig I mentioned in my last post. Way back in 1981 (when I was fourteen) I bought a ticket for the ‘Exit Stage Left’ tour well in advance. I put the ticket, under a weight, on top of my wardrobe, the top being at about head height, and I saw it every day sitting there, waiting for the day I could use it. Naturally I was rather excited about this as it involved four or five of us travelling down to London from Didcot, on the train, and then on the tube to Wembley, and back again after the gig. Having sat on the wardrobe for several months, it went missing a couple of weeks before the gig. By went missing I mean that somebody took it, I didn’t misplace it, didn’t lose it, it was under a weight and it didn’t just blow away.

This didn’t stop me going. We all went down, four of us with tickets and me without. I did manage to get a ticket from a tout but I was some distance form the stage, whereas everybody else was pretty near the front, in the first twenty rows somewhere. It was still a decent view though. They told me afterwards that nobody took my place with my ticket, but they may well have known them and decided not to tell me. In many ways I would rather that somebody turned up rather than take the ticket and not use it, which feels rather more spiteful.

The internet is a wonderful thing as a quick search provided me with the set list from that gig, her’s a link to the site I found it on:

And here is the set list of the tracks they played that night:

2112 Part I: Overture
2112 Part II: The Temples of Syrinx
Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres Part I: Prelude
Beneath, Between & Behind
Subdivisions (Early version)
The Camera Eye
Drum Solo
Broon’s Bane
The Trees
The Spirit of Radio
Red Barchetta
Closer to the Heart
Tom Sawyer
Vital Signs
Working Man
Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres Part IV: Armageddon
By-Tor & The Snow Dog
In the End
In the Mood
2112 Part VII: Grand Finale

La Villa Strangiato

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It was a great set that leaned heavily on ‘Moving Pictures’, which had been their last studio album and is still a favourite of mine. The event was spoiled somewhat for me at the time by all the goings on but now, 34 years later, I can look back on it rather fondly because I still got to see them and it was a damn fine gig. I put together the set list as a Spotify playlist as best I could and it’s below, after that is ‘Exit Stage Left’ itself, it’s a twofor!


And then I found this, which is rather spiffy:

WHAT’S IN THE BAG? (20, 21, 22)

Rush have never been cool, and never will be, but they are a large section of the soundtrack to my adolescence and have, in one way or another, been with me for 35 years. This is a bloody long time, though we did part ways in 1985 with the last thing I bought by them being Power Windows, which I really liked but I was heading in a different direction taste wise and have never listened to the next 9 albums. That’s not to say I won’t, but I think things began to get a bit keyboard centric for me at the time.

The bag contained three Rush albums, the first three, Rush, Fly By Night and Caress of Steel. Their first reminds me in perhaps too many ways of Led Zeppelins first. The songs don’t necessarily sound the same, it’s the feel of the whole thing that makes it reminiscent for me, from the minimal colour on the sleeve to there being rather a lot of riffing going on (which is not necessarily a negative).

Original drummer, John Rutsey, does a fine job, but he isn’t Neil Peart, then again who is? The difference is immediately evident with ‘Fly By Night’ opener, Anthem where the addition of Peart adds a complexity that wasn’t previously there. Of these three albums the third, Caress of Steel, is probably my least favourite, ‘I think I’m going bald’ is, frankly, annoying and I could probably do without 19 minutes and 58 seconds of ‘The Fountain Of Lamneth’, and in the entire Rush canon, i could also do without all Tolkien references and Tolkienesque lyrics (Such as Rivendell on Fly By Night). I don’t dislike this aspect as such, but now it all seems somewhat twee.

I have seen Rush live once, which was, I’m pretty sure, the ‘Exit Stage Left’ tour, oddly a tour to promote a live album. It was at Wembley Arena, London, in 1981. I remember two things most vividly about this concert, the first was the opening notes of Tom Sawyer and the second was wishing they’d hurry up and get to the end of ‘By-Tor and the bloody Snow Dog’, although I think that was because it was getting a bit late by now and I had a two hour train journey home afterwards. I do actually rather like the track. Out of curiosity I looked up the following:

  • Rush’s road manager Howard Ungerleider came up with the title at a party. There were two dogs at the party, one a German shepherd and the other a tiny white nervous dog. Howard used to call the shepherd By-Tor because anyone that walked into the house was bitten. The other dog was a snow-dog (white). So from that night on Howard called the pair of dogs “By-Tor and the Snow Dog.” The dogs belonged to Rush’s manager.

    from – Songfacts

There will be more about this concert in a future post, but for now I would like to say just a couple more things, I would really love to be cool and only talk about really hip bands, but bollocks to that, I love a bit of Rush. Also, I will probably give those missing 9 albums a go at some point as there’s a very high possibility that I’m missing out on some good stuff. Here are the first three albums for your listening pleasure

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Rush 8.2/10
Caress Of Steel 8.3/10
Fly By Night 8.3/10