Friday, 15 April 2011

15/4/76: even though it's only number three

Ah, Dave Lee Travis. A man to whom history has not been kind, but then contemporaneousness wasn't particularly kind to him either. Pre-Cornflake, pre-snooker, pre-quacking quacking oopsing, his what would now be drivetime show laboured under the title 'It's DLT OK!' as if his desire to find an audience through innovation had hit a brick wall and he only had the power of his name to go on. Here he is indulging in one of his loves, aside from editoralising and laughing, in 1979, feeling proud about launching DJ race days and introduced by a film of last week's host when he looked slightly different. They hated each other, you know.

The dewey-eyed promo still of Tina Charles in the rundown gets us every time.

Fox – S-S-S-Single Bed
As if to predict what would have been the breakout viral success of repeat week one, even though it's only just entered the top 20 we get this for a kickoff. As an extra bonus, as the camera pans to Noosha's good side - and in this performance she really works the sideways looks - you can see DLT in the background poised as if still waiting for his cue. He is jigging on the spot. Amid such seductiveness the talkbox solo still sounds completely out of place, let alone that it's delivered by a man in a David Soul brown cardigan through a Peter Frampton-like plastic tube. Two women in matching brown Homburgs sway in time at the front. Maybe they're waiting for Pan's People to do Jungle Rock again.

The Stylistics – Can’t Help Falling In Love
A Philly soul cover of the Elvis standard shorn of quite a bit of its unison twirling style by the glaring fact one of them's sitting sideways on a stool, looking quite put out at the bits he'd otherwise be joining in with. Russell Thompkins Jr's almost constant thousand yard stare is a thing of... no, not beauty, the opposite. DLT calls it a "super new sound". He doesn't explain the seatedness. It's like a less spectacular version of the Tams fiasco.

Diana Ross – Theme From Mahogany
Not the age of the train promo clip from a fortnight past but Pan's People in outfits seemingly comprised of ruffs and silk twirling around big boxes and a tree with no leaves. They can handle the tempo, the meaning of the words less so. DLT's outro suggests he immediately wants to sodomise them all. Wonder if they reciprocated the notion.

Brass Construction – Movin'
The Funk in evidence, as are the requisite gold and otherwise reflective suits and about a million members. Only on film, which saves the BBC orchestra a job.

Sailor – Girls Girls Girls
Nickelodeon news! Since beholding the majesty of Richard O'Sullivanagram Georg Kajanus' specially made dual sided keyboard collection last time out, we find there's an entire page devoted to its construction and design developments, and they wrote a song about it (if you're like us you'll get an advert for Natalia Kills before the clip starts, and you may like to wonder if we've really come on that far as a species) By the way, they're still going, though in a unique twist with all the original members except the singer.

Isaac Hayes – Disco Connection
Pan's People, for all the opportunity to wear crop tops and short skirts, rarely looked at home with disco, where moves are led by the soul rather than a flailing Flick Colby. No Hayes vocals on this, bar some low growling, but some cracking Stax strings and only the merest hint of slap bass.

Smokie – Wild Wild Angels
"A consistently good sounding group" is the nearest Travis can get to all-out promotion all night, and he even has to spit that out. Their workaday northern club take on freeway rock is enlivened no end by a woman dressed for Little House On The Prairie, wide brimmed hat and all, dancing at the back of the stage with a book in her hand. Maybe she'd come to clean the studio from the evil spirits. The singer tries soul growling. He fails. This didn't chart, by the way.

Eric Carmen – All By Myself
"1976 is definitely the year of the big production numbers" Dave tells us, and the proprietors of a hip King's Road boutique snigger. You can tell there's been an edit in recording as the same big-brimmed lady is still strutting her careful stuff in the same place, though she's put her book down. Actually, unless they were recording two at a time and taking wild guesses with the chart placings Carmen has come back to deliver his local radio Smoochy Love Line Hour staple in the same clothes he wore when bothering Noel last week, right down to the openness of his blue working man's shirt. Like John Miles, it feels like it lasts for hours.

Brotherhood Of Man – Save Your Kisses For Me
For the fourth of six weeks at number one not the studio performance, or the Eurovision appearance, but some sort of video filmed in a very 70s slightly brown filter. All they actually do for the expense is wander through Holland Park, first in a line, then behind small fences pointing at things. The chorus gets a slow pan across some flowers and later a peacock in profile. It doesn't really reflect the song.

And we finish over some studio lights with Rodger Collins' You Sexy Sugar Plum, a funk pop jam in search of a dynamic chorus.

EDIT NEWS: As previously discussed this is the first of the 40 minute shows edited down - quite well, as it happens - to fit a neat half hour, so we lost Get Back - just the Apple roof footage you've probably seen in all its shambolic nature - The Three Degrees' undistinguishedly slow "brand new sound" (another one?) A Toast Of Love (though they're styled about twenty years ahead of their time), to which DLT gallantly suggests "they can singe my toast any time", and Silver Convention's Get Up And Boogie, disco trying far too hard to groove and accompanied by 1930s cartoons that fail to explain why in their chart still the three female singers are crouching down with their hands on their knees.


FishyFish said...

A shame it's been cut, although, to be fair, I didn't notice the edits.

Highlight this week for me was the cameraman who decided that the best shot during Smokie's performance would be to edge his way behind the stage to give the viewers at home a view of singer Chris Norman's back and a detailed close up look at the cables and rigging holding the set up.

MartS said...

Of course, the next time Top Gear featured a jet propelled car with low tyre pressure, Richard Hammond nearly killed himself driving it.

When DLT did it - he switched the engine off at the first twitch of oversteer.

Hampster 0 Hairy Cornflake 1.

Still I doubt Hammond would have linked out of the first Pans People song'n'dance featurette with a comment and a neanderthol grunt, which made you look for DLT's dirty raincoat somewhere in shot.

Call it a draw.

wilberforce said...

i saw the brass contruction video when it was first aired on TOTP and remember being completely blown away by it...

up to that point like most of my peers i had been raised on pop and was starting to graduate to heavy rock, but that (along with the Fatback Band's "Bus Stop") signposted (in massive flashing neon letters) a new musical path to take - one that i have not stopped travelling since...

wilberforce said...

a couple of other points:

when fox first appeared on TOTP all those years ago, i remember the DJ blabbering on about them being some kind of "supergroup". so i scanned the band members in the expectation of spotting some familiar faces, but the only one i recognised was the guy out of 10cc on guitar. but when i saw them again after that something didn't seem quite right, and i finally realised that "lol" was actually a creme-clone!

also, regarding the stylistics: maybe the guy on the stool had sprained his ankle practising the "intricate" footwork routines with his fellow-backing singers?

Simon said...

Suspect the Fox thing will be because of how Noel introduced them on that debut, "a small piece of Van Morrison, a little bit of Stealer's Wheel, a small bit of the Ronnie Lane band and (a portion of Herd?)" In fact guitarist Kenny Young had written Under the Boardwalk and Ai No Corrida and the drummer was in Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance but I can't see any Stealer's Wheel crossover. Thought I'd read somewhere that some of Fox went on to form Paul Young's first band and locked on future Alternative Canon candidate Streetband, but apparently not.

There was some tremendous synchronised leg wobbling going on during that Stylistics performance. Maybe he'd picked up a strain in the warm-up and had to be benched.

wilberforce said...

i've checked out the fox debut TOTP performance - interesting to note in the interim period between that and "single bed" the other guitarist (kenny young?) has had a substantial haircut and image makeover, whilst the bassist's hair is a lot shaggier!

for those who don't know, after noosha and the band went their separate ways, kenny and the boys returned as "yellow dog" with the now-obscure humourous hit "one more night" (i loved the goons "ying-tong song" style fadeout - "i'll do all the cooking, i'll do all the cleaning" etc). looking forward to seeing that one again if they get to 1978...

Chris Brown said...

I'm sure everyone says this, but you never see DLT and 19th-century Parisian painter and critic Carolus-Duran in the same place at the same time, do you? Just sayin' that's all.

I wonder whether they'd already done a 30-min edit for some other purpose, actually. Maybe for overseas sales?

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

Just re-watching a few old shows inc this one. This may have been covered elsewhere but the Lol Creme lookalike is a guy called Herbie Armstrong who made headlines last year when he entered Britain's Got Talent. He made the semi finals but didn't do that well. He now runs a pub. The mouth tube guitarist wasn't Kenny Young but Jim Gannon (who was previously in the prog band Black Widow). Kenny young had left the group at this point but he and Armstrong were later in Yellow Dog.

When we see DLT in the background there's a ginger-haired guy dancing the audience who I remembered seeing in the 1973 Christmas special, mainly because he's such a bad dancer. See the following link - he can be seen dancing to 10CCs Rubber Bullets at about 45 seconds in (he's wearing a silver top hat and a pink tail coat):

Perhaps he was a Lol Creme/Lol Creme-lookalike fan. But in two and a half years his dancing hasn't improved.