Saturday, 7 March 2015

Paul Hardcastle 'The Wizard'

Chart Peak: 15
The New Top Of The Pops theme, 'The Wizard', charted at No. 34 on 7th October and had reached no. 15 by 21st October.
"New" is a bit of a relative term here: the theme had been in use since April, so it was already familiar by the time the single hit the shops, which is why after about 40 seconds I expect to hear cheering and David "Kid" Jensen introducing a performance by Level 42. Needless to say, Hardcastle did get to perform the song on the show itself once it charted, getting bonus 80s TotP points by having what seem to be at least seven synthesisers on stage for an obviously mimed performance and being in front of a video wall, though there's a surprising lack of dry ice. Given the advance familiarity of the song it seems slightly odd that it took three weeks to peak but I suppose people might have had trouble linking the title to the theme tune.

29 years later, 'The Wizard' sounds like the sort of thing you might dance to while waiting for house music to be invented. It has the programmed beats and the samples (is that really Vincent Price's laugh from 'Thriller'?) but Hardcastle seems to be playing some sort of jazz-funk over the top of it. I don't actually know whether the song was originally written for a TV theme and stretched out to the three-minute single (then later still to a two-part album version of almost ten minutes) but it sort of feels like it, not really justifying the extended running time with enough variation on the basic theme. In contrast to the more inventive '19' and 'Just For Money', this appeals mainly on a nostalgic level.

Also appearing on: Now 6
Available on: Top of the Pops: 1986

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