Number Ones: #13


  • BLANCMANGE Don’t Tell Me (London)
  • Week Ending 12th May 1984
  • 2 Weeks at #1


Funny how the reality of a record’s creation can be so different to what you might imagine. Take this, just another in a growing line of seemingly effortless, quirky pop gems from the esteemed house of Arthur & Luscombe.

Having banked considerable chart credit with a string of Top 40 hits, sparked by 1982’s breakthrough Living On The Ceiling and taking in Waves, Blind Vision and That’s Love That It Is all before 1983 was done, one would assume the Blancmange chaps simply came down for breakfast each morning, exchanged greetings, and knocked out another chart smash before lunchtime. “There you go”, they would surely say to London Records’ A&R fellow, “just put this out next month and we’ll go and choose some new clothes for Top Of The Pops”. No sweat, no drama.

Except that, according to Neil Arthur (as shared in the sleevenotes to 2017’s deluxe edition of the Mange Tout album), drama there most certainly was in the Blanc universe as 1984 dawned. Blind Vision may have made the Top 10, but that had been more than 6 months earlier, and the momentum was in danger of evaporating in the aftermath of That’s Love…’s lowly #33 peak. Sessions for their second album were proving less than straightforward, with the record label concerned at the commercial potential of the tracks they’d completed (to quote the Tom Petty song, “the A&R man said, I don’t hear a single!”).

So, off to New York. And then, in an “ah fuck it, how about this?” moment of divine/desperate inspiration, the idea for Don’t Tell Me.

Within weeks of release, it shot to #8 in the UK, seamlessly extending their golden run and hinting at new creative peaks. Mange Tout, when it followed shortly thereafter, also hit the Top 10 and nobody on the outside could have imagined how narrowly the duo had averted a crisis.

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