Tag Archives: Top Of The Pops

The Choob’s 12 Days Of Christmas: The Pogues And Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale Of New York


On the first day of Christmas, The Cathode Ray Choob Sent to you… the greatest Christmas song ever.

What better way to kick off celebrations of the Choob’s first Christmas than with the one Christmas song we never tire of hearing?

The song  is, of course, Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. It needs no introduction but I would like to explain why I chose this particular video.

The song was originally released waaayyyy back in 1987 (yikes!) and this was the first-ever Top Of The Pops performance, on December 17 that year (in one of the great chart injustices, the song peaked at number two in the UK top 40 that year, denied the top spot by The Pet Shop Boys‘ cover of Always On My Mind).

It’s fairly obvious from Pogues lead singer Shane MacGowan‘s lack of lip-syncing during the intro that this is a mimed version. There are plenty of proper live performances of the song on YouTube, so why not use one of them?

Well, this is my personal favourite for two reasons:

First, the song is an important part of the soundtrack to my life and I very clearly remember watching this performance “live” on TV for the first time back in 1987.

And second, there’s a wonderfully sweet shot of Kirsty and Shane dancing right at the end as the song fades out, which was cute and touching at the time but I think is even more poignant now, after Kirsty’s tragically young deathin December 2000. I’m grateful to the YouTube user who recently uploaded this video because for years, the only version available online cut out the wonderful dance at the end.

There’s more from The Pogues and Kirsty here.

Merry Christmas everyone (and happy birthday Shane!).

Rest In Peace, Kirsty.

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Top Of The Pops Thursday: Tony Christie – I Did What I Did For Maria; Drive Safely Darling


I love songs that tell little stories. You know, lyrics that have a plot as opposed to songs that are just a collection of random thoughts or thematic ramblings.

And these are possibly my two favourite storytelling songs. They are also my second and third-favourite Tony Christie songs (I won’t say just yet what my favourite is but here’s a clue as to what it isn’t – I couldn’t care less how you get to Amarillo).

The stories they both tell are actually quite dark and depressing.

At number two on my own personal Tony Christie top three we have I Did What I Did For Maria – a western-themed song in which a killer, on the eve of his execution, recalls how he took cold-blooded revenge on his wife’s murderer. Not exactly heartwarming stuff… but a great song.

Here’s a live TV performance from the early 70s. The modern-day introduction to the archive footage appears to be from an eastern European TV channel but I’ve no idea which country or TV show the vintage clip came from. If anyone knows, please leave a comment.

And at number three, we have the unintentionally hilarious Drive Safely Darling. I know it’s meant to be a sad song in which a man shares the guilt he feels about failing to stop his wife driving off on in treacherously bad weather, in which she crashes and dies – but the line where the sheriff turns up and gives him the bad news is so badly “acted” I can’t help laughing. That said, song-wise it’s pretty good and Christie’s voice (acting aside) is great as always.

This is a live performance from Top Of The Pops on January 8, 1976 (a true live performance, I’m pretty sure, rather than the usual TOTP miming).

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Top Of The Pops Thursday: Sham 69 – If The Kids Are United; Hersham Boys


The musical era I grew up in was the 80s. It wasn’t until about 1982 or 1983 on that I reached an age at which I really started to take more of an interest in music.

As such, there are a lot of bands and songs from the 1980s that will always mean a lot to me.

However, if I’m being honest, I can’t help wishing that my musical coming of age had been in the late 70s – the dawn of punk rock and the New Wave.

There was a raw energy and honesty about so much of the music of the time, from bands that genuinely had something to say about their generation and the society they were growing up in, which increasingly got lost behind the big hair and image-obsessed shallow superficiality that defined much of 1980s music (even the good stuff).

Here’s a couple of classic songs from one of the most influential 70s punk bands, Sham 69.

Somewhat surprisingly, there’s very little proper vintage archive live material from the band available at the usual online video sources.

So here, from a 2003 DVD release of a gig filmed at Concorde 2 in Brighton on April 10th 2002, is “the best song we ever wrote”, according to the band’s singer/founder Jimmy Pursey, If The Kids Are United:

Here, as a taste of the band in their 70s heyday, is a 1979 Top Of The Pops (probably mimed, unfortunately) performance of Hersham Boys:

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Top Of The Pops Thursday: Godley & Creme – Under Your Thumb


This wonderfully atmospheric, haunting song still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up even now, 28 years after it was released.

Actually, I really need to stop working out those kind of figures, cos it’s making me depressed how long ago it all was.

Anyway, it’s Under Your Thumb by former 10cc members Godley & Creme, a spooky little ditty about one man’s close encounter with the ghost of a woman who killed herself as a result of domestic abuse. Enjoy..?

Now, it’s a bit of a cheat to include this on Top Of The Pops Thursday, which is supposed to celebrate great live performances, when this performance on the BBC’s Top Of The Pops is clearly mimed – however, I’ve been unable to find a proper live version or the music video, so it was this or nothing.

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Top Of The Pops Thursday: Green Day – Time Of Your Life (Good Riddance); Boulevard Of Broken Dreams


This week’s Top Of  The Pops Thursday spotlights punk rockers Green Day.

I have to admit, I knew very little about them before American Idiot in 2004, and still haven’t got round to checking out all their back catalogue, but I love what I heave heard. They’ve been around for an astonishing 22 years in a fairly stable formation.

Look out for a new album, 21st Century Breakdown, which is due out on May 15 this year. It will be their eighth studio album and their first since 2004’s popularity-boosting American Idiot.

First, from a 1998 edition of Top Of The Pops on BBC1, an acoustic version of Time Of Your Life (Good Riddance) by singer Billie Joe Armstrong:

And here, from a Later… With Jools Holland show from, I assume, 2004, here is Boulevard Of Broken Dreams:

And, as a little bonus, here’s another performance of Boulevard… from The Late Show With David Letterman, which is also worth a look to see what happens to drummer Tré Cool at the end, and Letterman’s response:

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