Saturday, 9 April 2011

1/4/76: Where is Beatles band?

NB. I'll be using original TX dates rather than BBC4 schedules for this. I have a list.

It's Tony Blackburn! In a roll neck! Tony Blackburn is remembered now, apart from being a key component of that tremendous Peel anecdote about the Radio 1 Fun Day Out at Mallory Park, as crassly enthusiastic and thus now ironic, a career bubbling that started in about 1997 on Five's Night Fever and continued to about a year after I'm A Celebrity, by which time, as Paul Whitehouse pointed out, he was doing all the stuff people ascribed to him for comedic purposes. In the last couple of years he's put away the spangly jackets he never wore first time round, having left well before the Radio 1 Roadshow, and reinvented himself as an elder statesman of it being all about the music, whereas Jimmy Saville, who actually was a music man in his heyday alongside the million foibles, has remanoevured so well he's now spent twenty years as the nation's favourite Uncle Disgusting. While he never seems to have been comfortable per se, maybe his spell on Junior Choice loosened him up for TOTP. Actually, here's the start of this very show, and note the Beatles pic at number 27 inventing Oasis' 00s style:

Sailor - Girls Girls Girls
How do you hit upon a setup like that? The adapted drum kit is one thing, but behold the majesty of the Nickelodeon, an entirely self-constructed riot of keyboards, glockenspiels and completely useless bass drum on the side. If Chase & Status used one of them face to face we'd have far more respect for them. Sailor were British, though the singer was Norwegian and they sound somehow Dutch. How thick is this veneer of irony they project?

Diana Ross - Theme from Mahogany
Do You Know Where You're Going To, as you may know it. Diana looks wistfully out of a window, and then it suddenly ends. Doesn't seem to be a modern edit, more the hamfisted nature of a lot of 1970s editing.

Tarmey & Spencer - I’m Your Man Rock ‘N’ Roll
Rock'n'roll isn't sentinent, you know. Actually the Tarney-Spencer Band, but that name is how everyone archived it which shows how big a hit it wasn't. An odd record too, unsure whether to be 12-bar electrified blues, bar band or staccato pop-funk so being none of the above. Alan Tarmey, who Tony is keen to tell us played everything but drums on the recording, went on to produce Cliff during his turn of the 80s renaissance, the first three A-Ha albums and the single version of Saint Etienne's You're In A Bad Way. Bob's work, doubtless.

ABBA - Fernando
It's the video around the campfire. Tony mentions Eurovision in his intro even though that was nearly two years back by then.

Laurie Andrew – I’ll Never Love Anyone Anymore
Or Lawrence Andrew, as Tone calls him twice. A bloke who looks like Kevin Godley and has a vocal bordering on Tracy Chapman-tone female plays a dull longing ballad with wistful synths while wearing a jacket meant to look like that of a child's cartoon pauper.

Hank Mizell - Jungle Rock
"Trouble is, nobody can find him" Tony says, which is plausible when you find out it was recorded in 1958, did nothing at the time but was rediscovered by influential DJs around 1971 after appearing on a Dutch bootleg. He was found eventually and would appear in a later week, while in 1997 Mark E Smith added it to his personal list of quixotically covered rockabilly. In the here and then it was given for Pan’s People to hoof in khaki shorts with bazookas accompanied by cutaways of the world's single cheapest animal costumes. Seriously, religious programming on specialist satellite stations would be ashamed. Tony makes a joke about David Hamilton.

John Miles - Music
"Music was my first hit and it will be my last" quoth Nick Hancock. Miles, see, never quite gets across the message that he loves music as much as he thinks it has wronged him and must pay. He's heard Live And Let Die and thought piano into rock section must be the key. Then he has a go at grandstanding orchestral, during a section where his band are concentrating hard. Then there's a key change right out of an appalling music and well above Miles' vocal range. My, the self-absorption.

Fox – S-S-S-Single Bed
And then a strange woman in a bedsheet comes on and this is the one that gets on Trending Topics. Noosha Fox did, at any rate, and so nearly did Alison Goldfrapp, the comparison made seemingly more on an individual comeliness rather than musical basis, though were Alison and Will ever to go slithery disco we'd be keen. Go on, Will, get your talkbox out. Then Ben Goldacre, kind of an Alan Maryon-Davis for the Tens, let slip that Susan Traynor, to give Noosha her proper name, is his mum and all merry heck broke loose. What else? This was their third and last (and not even biggest, despite being the one people know - not enough funk, that's the problem with those) top 20 single, and songwriter/Frampton-to-be Kenny Young penned Under The Boardwalk, worked in the Brill Building and most recently worked with Buena Vista Social Club. This is from a later show but it's the same performance, and it's great, so...

The Beatles - Hey Jude
"We go back to 1966" as Tony says both before and after. Seriously, did they not have researchers? Or books? There's no particular reason I can tell for there being loads of Beatles songs reissued - it was ten years after their last gig, but that was in October. The clip is a performance I've never seen before and even then badly stored and all sepia.

Brotherhood Of Man – Save Your Kisses For Me
There are crowd members giggling at the choreography. Should that not have been a hint? Mind you it's number one, like they should care. That last line is quite something. It's still number one next week so I'll mention that the Drifters' Hello Happiness is over the end credits with its ill-advised British Invasion guitar line and cover the Eurovision fall-out then.


Jon said...


"On February 6th 1976 the Beatles nine-year recording contract with EMI expired. This left EMI with the rights to re-release anything from their back catalogue, which they did, with gusto, starting with EVERY single... All 23 were issued in a similar green picture sleeve with different pictures on the reverse. ALL 23 again made the Top 100 (at one point ALL simultaneously) with 6 of them reaching the top 50."

wilberforce said...

just why were sufficient quantities of these beatles singles reissues bought to allow them to gatecrash the charts? was the mid-70's popular music scene so bereft that people had to resort to the past? of course that wasn't the case, even if the media's manipulation may bave made it seem so...

pop is dead in the water these days so looking to bygone times for musical sustancance is far more justified than it was back then. maybe it's because i have an allergy to the beatles "we're not worthy" syndrome, but to buy their old recordings just because they've been re-released seems pretty sad to me (if people liked them that much why didn't they have them already? it wasn't like they were obscure or anything). it's nearly as pathetic as folk buying john lennon singles in vast quantities 5 years later just because the guy had been shot! it really rankles with me that the beatles are present in the top 30 rundowns of these old TOTP shows - they were from a different era and just shouldn't have been there!

Chris Brown said...

People who were buying records certainly didn't seem to think much of the new music of 1976. To recycle one of my old Usenet posts, the Top 50 chart dated 10th April 1976 has 6 Beatles tracks, but the other 44 include at least three other re-issues and five obvious covers (six if you count Eric Carmen copying a classical melody). Even the genuinely new material includes self-consciously backward-looking stuff like John Miles.

Maybe it was the social climate.

daf said...

Hello from the future!

I just decided to re-watch the shows (one a night) while waiting for the 1978 lot to get going.

Fox is the real highlight here - as well as a great song, a particular highlight is watching the the toothy long haired guitarist grinning like a loon all the way through - he's really tickled about something!

The Beatles clip is rather odd - I think Paul's actually singing live over the record - I'd imagine this was made for a Top of the Pops appearance, but being on film may have survived, while the episode got wiped. (all four show have gone under the magnet!)

Bizzarely on TWO separate shows, it was played as the FIRST song (over the charts) AND as the LAST song (being number One).
Obviously, 1968 was at the peak of the European Pop shortage, so they had to play some songs twice to fill the time!