Radio Memories – Tommy Boyd.

Tommy Boyd is someone who I remember watching on the TV, but by the mid-90s he had left the screen and got into radio. Because I still had a lot of goodwill for him following his time on TV-am and CITV, I thought that I would give him a listen. I was rather surprised to discover that he was someone who was often let go from radio stations for his antics. Tommy hosted a live phone-in on Talk Radio on weekday afternoons, and he seemed to be interested in why people had particular opinions and attitudes, and what the world was all about.

He could be classed as being something of a wind-up merchant, but at least he was a good one. He would begin shows by making a statement like “I think that this should be banned”, and then wait for the response. He would often get callers who said “Tommy, you’re talking rubbish”. The next day, he would state “I think that this should be legalised”, and he’d get a different group of people say “Tommy, you’re talking rubbish”. It was as if they hadn’t actually heard him hold exactly the opposite opinion just a day earlier, and I think that he got a thrill out of doing that, even if this meant that it was difficult to know what his actual views on anything in the news were. vlcsnap-00005

He would often end up saying to inarticulate callers “you have poor communication skills!”, and this came alarmingly close to being a catchphrase. He also seemed to attract a rather large share of dotty old ladies who simply wanted to shout at him. He would often end the week with The Wonderful Hour, that was full of touching anecdotes, and was rather a contrast to the usual debate.

After this, Tommy was briefly on LBC, often presenting alongside Anne Diamond, which brought back more memories of TV-am. By the early-2000s, Tommy returned to the newly-named TalkSport, now on weekend evenings. Features included a football questions competition. And he also dedicated an hour to younger listeners, and discovered that most of them wanted to talk about wrestling (I must admit that I did occasionally watch WWF on Sky One at the weekend so I knew a little about this myself).

This was then turned into a full hour, featuring fans and pundits offering their views on what was happening on the wrestling scene (and occasionally having an argument with Tommy and pretending to throw him through a table). This resulted in Tommy putting on a big live event featuring lots of famous wrestlers grappling it out including Eddie Guerrero. Yes, the Eddie Guerrero!

And there was The Human Zoo, which put callers straight to air. Most of them seemed to be bored teenagers who had put together comedy sketches or songs, and rather a lot of them seemed to admire Tommy’s colleague Mike “I’ve had a gutful” Dickin. He also often bickered with his producer. Being in my teens at the time as well, I did enjoy this. Most of the calls were rather weird, but after having managed to put up with Timmy Mallett for many years, Tommy was ready for anything.

There was also an opening sequence which boasted of Tommy’s career achievements, including meditating within the ancient walls of Machu Pichu, and also being good showbiz friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger, not like you, no. By this point, Tommy had attracted something of a cult following, although this only really meant that there was a website dedicated to his work, and about 50 men thought that he was brilliant.

Then he left again, and even briefly turned up on the BBC Local Radio circuit, before he ended up on increasingly small-time internet radio stations, talking to almost nobody at all, which was rather disappointing for someone of his stature in the business. I do hope that we haven’t heard the last of him yet though, and he can continue to share his hard-earned wisdom for a long time to come.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 21.

Here’s another American pop star who was only successful in this country for a brief time, but I did enjoy what she had to offer. Once again, this is someone who I discovered after I put music channel TMF on one day and hoped that something interesting might turn up. And then there was a video from a teenage singer called Stacie Orrico. I didn’t really know anything about her, but I did like her single “Stuck”.

And I mean I really did like it, and I always looked forward to when this would come on the TV (this was in the pre-YouTube days, and we had to make the best of what we had). “Stuck” was released in August 2003, just after my 20th birthday. I did think to myself, now I was no longer a teenager, would I still be interested in pop music? Well this was proof that I was. I hoped that this would do well, but I had no idea if this would make the chart. vlcsnap-00444

“Stuck” entered the chart at no. 11, and I was disappointed that this just missed the Top Ten, but it still wasn’t too bad. And then, one week later, this went up two places to no. 9, to unexpectedly become her first and only UK Top Ten hit single (something that she never achieved in America). I couldn’t believe it, this was still in the era when songs almost always descended the chart from their entry position, and I was very pleased for her. vlcsnap-00445

So of course, I was eager to discover her next move. In October 2003, her second album was released (the first being as long ago as 2000, but this wasn’t a hit in the UK), which just made the Top 40. In November 2003 “There’s Gotta Be More To Life” was released, and I was pleased to see her return to the music channels with something new. And looking back, Stacie played various characters in the video, including one with blue hair, which will always get my approval. vlcsnap-00446

“There’s Gotta Be More To Life” just missed the Top Ten, and I’d put it among “Stuck” as my favourites. Going into 2004, Stacie had two more Top 40 hits with “I Promise” and “I Could Be The One”, which were rather nice too. After a break of two years, Stacie returned with “I’m Not Missing You”, her fifth and final UK Top 40 hit. The third album “Beautiful Awakening” didn’t do that well though by comparison. I don’t know that much about what Stacie has done in the 15 years since, but I’ll remember her songs making the days a little more exciting.

Radio Memories – Nick Abbot.

I thought that it was about time to look back at some more radio presenters who I have enjoyed over the years. Nick Abbot was among the launch line-up on BBC GLR in the late-80s. This was long before I was a regular radio listener, and this station has gone on to have lots of of relaunches. I first came across Nick in the late-90s, when he was a presenter on both Virgin and Talk Radio, and I can’t think of many other people who have been on two separate national radio stations at the same time.

Nick was on Saturday evenings on Talk Radio, following Baker and Kelly’s football phone-in. I did enjoy his style, he often said “we don’t do topics”, and he didn’t usually discuss what was on the news agenda. For some reason that even he didn’t know, his opening theme was the rather noisy “The Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson. I remember that he said that on the first radio show he did, he received no calls at all. And even by this point he always seemed to get the same three callers, which was rather awkward for a national station. vlcsnap-00443

One of them was some woman from Cheddar who always thought that Nick was “very ‘fessional”. Nick also often bickered with his producer who he claimed was “useless”. And he was very found of his sound clips, often playing strange noises, and some were taken from early episodes of South Park, including Cartman saying “what?!” when he didn’t know what a caller was on about, which was rather often.

One of the most surreal moments that I’ve heard on the radio happened on Nick’s show. During the news, there was a report on sheepdip, which the presenter mispronounced as “sheepdick”. Nick found this amusing and turned this into a sound clip that was often played. Then not long after, the presenter made the same mistake again, and then made it even worse when trying to correct himself: “sheepdick… oh, er… sheep… dick… er, ooh”. And when they went back to Nick he laughed for about a minute.

Nick would often end his show with “screenless”, where callers were put to air without being asked what they wanted to talk about in advance (Tommy Boyd later got a whole three-hour show out of this idea). He could only put up with people for a few seconds though because of their bizarre outbursts, and he often wondered “who are these people?”. Not long after, Nick was moved to weekday evenings, so he was on five days a week on two stations, which was good.

But this only lasted for a short time as he was let go from Talk Radio following some schedule restructuring. And then he resurfaced on LBC (when this was still a London-only station) where he presented a Saturday evening show alongside Carol McGiffin, an ex-wife of Chris Evans. Nick and Carol did get on well, having worked together on Talk Radio too, but once again they only ever seemed to get the same three callers every week.

And once again he left after a short while, and I didn’t hear much about him for years. But then he returned to LBC on weekend evenings, where although he did now discuss the news agenda, he did have a little more light-hearted take on politics than most of the other presenters. It’s good to know that he’s still out there, and he is still playing those silly South Park clips all the time.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 20.

Here’s a look back at another group who made some good singles in the 2000s, but ended up not hanging around in the spotlight for long as they deserved to. La Roux were a synthpop duo who were male/female, in a similar style to Goldfrapp and Moloko. The singer was Elly Jackson, whose mother found fame as a long-running cast member of ITV’s The Bill.

The other member was Ben Langmaid, who had been involved as a producer in various musical projects going back to the 90s. Their first single “Quicksand” wasn’t a hit, but it was in March 2009 when “In For The Kill” was released and they had their first success, when this reached no. 2. There seemed to be two different versions of this played on the radio, along with two videos as well.

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The critics seemed to be rather fond of their sound, and in July 2009 they went one step further when “Bulletproof” was released, and this became a chart-topper for one week. This really did sound like it had fallen through a timewarp from the 80s, and some felt that this sounded so similar to a musical style that they were rather surprised that Vince Clarke of Yazoo/Erasure fame didn’t end up also being credited. vlcsnap-00432

“Bulletproof” went on to be a Top Ten hit in America too, and I have to say as well that this is definitely one of my favourite Number Ones of this era. And yet remarkably, not only was this their only chart-topper, but no more of their singles would make the Top 20 in the UK at all. Also in July 2009, the self-titled debut album was released, which reached no. 2, and this won a Grammy Award. vlcsnap-00431

In October 2009, “I’m Not Your Toy” was released, and this reached only no. 27. It was as good as anything else that we’d already heard from them, but this went on to be their final Top 40 hit single, once again proving how short-lived fame can be. When La Roux did eventually return to the pop scene almost five years later, by this point it was essentially a solo project for Jackson. In August 2014 the second album “Trouble In Paradise” did make the Top Ten, but no more singles got anywhere near the Top 40, and a little-noticed third album came out another six years on.

More TV Memories – Sky Soccer Saturday.

Sky Soccer Saturday (Sky Sports, 1998-present)

As the Olympics are now finally underway, let’s take a look back at another sport show. A long time ago, back in the OnDigital days, there were various packages available. These included having access to some Sky Movies and Sky Sports channels, but these cost extra, so we never had those, and they remained blank. I did know a little about Sky Sports’ programming though, including their live coverage of Premier League matches.

The rest of us had to make do with the highlights on Match Of The Day or The Premiership. There was also Sky Soccer Saturday. I remember when I used to listen to Hawksbee And Jacobs on TalkSport in the afternoon, and when the producer used to try and tell Andy Jacobs something whilst he was talking, he would get rather flustered and say “I am not Jeff Stelling!”.

I also read articles that had praised Stelling’s hosting abilities, including being able to keep a long live show going, and being up to date with all of the results as they came in without smoke beginning to come out of his ears. When Sky Sports News came to Freeview, I could finally see Sky Soccer Saturday for myself. I always thought that this channel was rather curious as it existed in a world where the main headline would be something like a footballer had an injury and could be out for up to four weeks. vlcsnap-00433

Among the most familiar elements of Sky Soccer Saturday are the panellists, made up of ex-players. Stelling once joked that if a manager gets the sack from a club, they went and joined the panel, although this wasn’t too far away from the truth really. As well as in the studio, there were also reporters at various stadiums, and whenever there was a goal we’d definitely find out about it. vlcsnap-00434

Stelling was also praised for his puns, usually based on the goalscorers’ surnames, and for being aware of and also enthusiastic about the significance of a goal that could effect either the top of the Premier League table or the bottom of the Conference. Stelling was also supposedly a long-suffering fan of a lower league club, and he often put a brave face on their constant defeats. vlcsnap-00442

When the show finally ended, I imagine that Stelling had a lie down and a breather after putting in a good afternoon of hard work. Although similar shows eventually launched, including BBC Sport extending Final Score, and ITV Sport’s Football First/The Goal Rush, many consider this to be the best format. When Sky Sports News left Freeview, so did Sky Soccer Saturday, which was a disappointment.

In 2009, Stelling became the host of Countdown, which I thought was a good move, and I consider him to be my favourite of the post-Whiteley hosts. Some people seemed to think he treated the game a little too much like sports coverage though, eagerly updating the scores, and making football references (still better than Alphabetical though). He left after three years, and continues to work for Sky Sports to this day.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 19.

Here’s another group who briefly enhanced the singles chart for me in the late-2000s, even if they didn’t get the critics too excited, and I imagine there may not be too many people who’ll remember them now. The Hoosiers are a British trio who formed in the early-2000s. In June 2007 their debut single “Worried About Ray” was released, and became their first Top Ten hit.

This one was a celebration of the career of Ray Harryhausen, who was known for making pioneering special effects for various successful films, and they imagined him as he sat there working on his figurines all day long and his eyes were starting to go all blurry. Although this did mean that every interview they did around this time began with them being asked “how’s Ray?”.

I did like the quirky style of this one, and looked forward to what they would do next. In October 2007 the follow-up “Goodbye Mr A” was released, which was their biggest hit, although it would also be their second and final Top Ten single. This one contained another entertaining story where the band imagined themselves as superheroes. This was followed not long after by the release of their debut album “The Trick To Life”, which was a chart-topper for one week, so they clearly had managed to build something of a decent-sized fanbase.

“Worst Case Scenario” didn’t make the Top 75, but In April 2008 “Cops And Robbers” just missed the Top 20. And also around this time, there was a rather amusing TV advert promoting the album, featuring the band who seemed to insist that despite their success, the average pop music fan might know much about who they are. “Apparently no-one’s heard of us. We’ve had two hit singles!” protested their frontman… er, what was his name again?

The Hoosiers returned to the chart in August 2010 with “Choices”, which just missed the Top Ten, and turned out to be their final hit single all together, and in the same month the second album “The Illusion Of Safety” did make the Top Ten. Although they haven’t featured on the chart for over a decade now, it does seem that they are still together, although there have been some line-up changes, and they have made four albums.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 18.

Here’s the story of yet another late-90s act who suddenly hit the big time on the chart when it looked like his moment had passed. Les Rhythmes Digitales was a producer who used the name Jacques, although he was actually the French-born but English-raised Stuart Price. In August 1997 “Jacques Your Body (Make Me Sweat)” was released, but this barely made the Top 100. This one would eventually become more famous though.

In April 1998 he made the Top 75 for the first time with “Music Makes You Lose Control”, which was followed in October 1998 by “(Hey You) What’s That Sound?”, and then in June 1999 his second album “Darkdancer” just missed the Top 50. By he really caught my interest for the first time in August 1999 when “Sometimes” was released, which featured a guest vocal from Nik Kershaw (not to be confused with Howard Jones), and reached no. 56. vlcsnap-00433

I became familiar with this one after seeing the video on MTV, when I had access to that channel in my mid-teens, and I barely watched anything else for about two years. Among the various shows on that channel at the time was one hosted by Zane Lowe. And if like this one, you got your song endorsed by Zane and the video was on his show, then you really were rather trendy. vlcsnap-00435

I also group this one in with “1st Man In Space” by All Seeing I which was released around the same time, because like “Sometimes”, that featured a guest vocal from an 80s pop star, who in this case was Phil Oakey. And despite having plenty of success as a producer and songwriter, it had been a while since Kershaw had a big hit single, so it was good seeing him and Oakey back on the scene again. vlcsnap-00436

And then in October 1999 “Jacques Your Body” was rereleased, doing a little better this time, reaching no. 60. I did like this one because it had something of a synthpop vibe, and I don’t think that Daft Punk themselves could’ve done any better really. I could only imagine what his recording studio looked like at the time, it was probably full of shiny keytars. The big hit that I felt he had deserved still eluded him though by the end of the 90s. vlcsnap-00437

And then, over eight years on from the original release, In September 2005 “Jacques Your Body” was rereleased yet again after being used in an advert for Citroen, and reached no. 9, to finally earn him a Top Ten hit, just when I thought that this one would remain a 90s lost gem. By this point, he had gone on to work on several other musical projects, and he was also a much in-demand producer, including being one of the few people on Madonna’s rolodex, and he has also won some Grammy Awards.

More TV Memories – Record Of The Year.

Record Of The Year (ITV, 1998-2005)

In the late-90s, around the time when singles sales were on the rise, and there was a rather large turnover of chart-topping singles, it was decided that at the end of the year, there should be a special programme that would determine what the public’s favourite out of all of these were. This became Record Of The Year, a special show that was shown live on ITV on Saturday Night in December, in two parts.

This was planned to be a rather prestigious occasion, and record labels were soon hoping that their acts would have a chance of being nominated. There were lots of hosts over the years, originally there was Denise Van Outen, who was followed by Ant And Dec, and then Cat Deeley, and finally Vernon Kay. In the first part, the ten singles that were nominated were featured, and most of them were performed live on stage. record0001

These songs were always at the rather mainstream end of pop music, and even if the critics never really got that excited by them, the fans definitely did. At the end of part one, the phonelines are opened, and the viewers then had the chance to vote for their favourite. And then, about an hour later, in the second part of the show, there was the big reveal. And the way that the winner was announced seemed rather familiar. vlcsnap-00434

After the votes were counted, the songs were placed into order, with the one receiving the fewest votes scoring one point, and the one with the most scoring ten. This was announced for every ITV region, with the results being read out by someone such as maybe a local news or radio host. For example, in the Carlton Central (☹) region, the results were announced by Stephen Mulhern, who has been turning up on Saturday Nights on ITV for longer than people might realise. vlcsnap-00435

This was interesting because every region had their moment, would how they voted in Border be similar to how they voted in Anglia? The highest-scoring single was announced as The Record Of The Year, and the winners all rather eagerly ran on stage to receive a big trophy, making this come across as a cross between The Brit Awards and the Eurovision Song Contest, and there were some rather close finishes. vlcsnap-00436

The winners always seemed to be either Boyzone, Westlife (who won four times), or Busted, which says a lot about the public’s tastes. I wonder how many people will remember their winning songs now. Rather curiously, in 2005, the TV show came to an end, but the award continued, now only as an online vote, and this continued until 2012 when the idea finally came to an end.

Down The Dumper – The 2000s Part 13.

I can’t resist it, I’m going to take a look back at another song by a dance production group, and that’s because this is another one that I really liked at the time and I feel is worth featuring. Chocolate Puma were a Dutch production duo who had released singles under various names, and they had a UK Top Ten hit single as early as 1993 with “Give It Up” (which was sampled on Simply Red’s 1995 chart-topper “Fairground”), at which point they were known as The Goodmen. This was also a minor hit in America.

In March 2001, as Chocolate Puma, “I Wanna Be U” was released, and this reached no. 6, so I suppose it could be said that this was actually their second UK Top Ten hit. Now 2001 was a year that for me was packed with really great dance singles on the chart, although I was in my mid-teens at the time, when I was really into pop music, but this one still managed to stand out more than most. vlcsnap-00423

This is partly because of the rather bizarre video, that I remember watching on MTV and is difficult to describe, although I did get something of an 80s vibe off this, and you should know how much I like 80s pop culture by now, wherever the references might turn up. There was some chocolate involved too naturally. They went on to have another Top Ten hit in 2001 under the alias Riva, with “Who Do You Love Now?”, featuring a guest vocal from Dannii Minogue. vlcsnap-00424

About a year on from their success, In May 2002 “Follow Da Leader” was released by Trinidad & Tobago duo Nigel And Marvin, and this was essentially someone shouting over the instrumental of “I Wanna Be U”. Although I thought this was far inferior, this reached no. 5, meaning that this went one better than the original, which is something of an injustice for me, even if it was good to see this unexpectedly return to the Top Ten in some form.vlcsnap-00425

Fans had to wait a rather long time for the follow-up under the Chocolate Puma name though, and over five years on from their big moment, in August 2006 “Always And Forever” was released, and this reached only no. 43, and that was that. In more recent years Chocolate Puma (or whatever they’re called now) have gone on to release many more singles, although none of them have been a hit in the UK, and they are also much in demand remixers.

More TV Memories – Tip Top TV.

Tip Top TV (ITV, 1994)

This is the kind of show that this blog was designed to cover, as this came and went from the TV screen rather quickly, and it was also rather weird. First of all, I’m fairly sure that this was shown in the post-The Chart Show timeslot on a Saturday afternoon, and there weren’t many editions, indeed this could’ve been a one-off. I also thought that this might’ve only been shown in the LWT region, but as this was a Granada/Carlton/Central co-production, maybe it wasn’t.

Around 1993 the comedy double-act of Kid Tempo and The Ginger Prince (so-called because he had a ginger beard presumably) started out on various radio stations, and then in 1994 they hosted Tip Top TV (not to be confused with that cream that you used to put on your pudding). Tip Top stood for “Totally Integrated Panoramic Transmission Of Pop”, oh right, if you insist. vlcsnap-00426

Tip Top TV was almost presented as if it was a pirate taking over the signal (there were some cases of pirate TV stations in London a long time ago, but they are much more rare than pirate radio). This show was presented by Kid Tempo in the studio, that consisted of a big desk, and lots of women at tape recorders, while The Ginger Prince was alongside the musical acts. First up were Let Loose, who really were a big group at the time. vlcsnap-00427

Other features included The Tip Toppers (who seemed to be rather familiar to The Banana Splits), Girls Today, who did a dance routine, The Pop Gallery, and a puppet that rather enjoyed Blur (I began to get a Doobie Duck off CBBC flashback from this one), and it by was point things were beginning to resemble a rather trippy retro edition of Top Of The Pops. vlcsnap-00429

And there were also performances from hot groups Echobelly (who appeared on the cover of Melody Maker, proof that they were rather fancy), Roxette, D:Ream, and Eternal. You could even join the Tip Top club. Yes really, you could, and you would receive a membership number along with a newsletter containing everything you needed to know. Lots of people were very eager to join and spread the word. vlcsnap-00430

Tip Top TV wasn’t the end of this though. From 1995-1996, there were two series of Radio Tip Top on BBC Radio 1. This was a mixture of comedy and music, and every hour-long edition was brought to listeners by the magic of Lunewyre Technology in Total Spectrasound. This came from The Starlight Ballrooms, and their aim was to put the fizz back into pop music. vlcsnap-00432

It seems that there were also various sketches, and Britpop was mixed in with many other genres of music. I don’t remember this at the time, but there are a few editions online, and I think that it could be a good idea to take a listen to them, as there’s a chance that this could be my kind of thing. And in 1996 they released a cover of M’s “Pop Muzik”, but this wasn’t a hit. After this ended, they vanished off the scene, but they definitely had a unique approach to presenting 90s pop music.