Saturday, 9 April 2011

8/4/76: Vince Pinner Meets Rockers Uptown

At this stage Noel Edmonds was Radio 1 breakfast show host and about to start on Multi-Coloured Swap Shop that autumn. That move seems to have knocked the RP out of his accent, which is often in evidence here and on later TOTP appearances in this run (look up the famous Can intro, for one). Marvellously Hank Mizell is up to number 7 and his countdown still is two of those back-of-the-shop costumes. Fox, incidentally, entered at 41, their appearance making more of an impression 35 years hence than at the time.

Hot Chocolate – Don’t Stop It Now
Unpromisingly, smooth soul man Errol Brown has taken the Rod Stewart approach to mike stand technique, giving it the full base in the air business while holding it with both hands. It has a stand, y'know, Errol. Johnny Pearson's orchestra, while well within Musician's Union rules, seem particularly syrupy this week, which may explain why Errol and the bass player have a chat during the instrumental break during which both seem to be trying to make the other laugh. "They'd go down a wow collecting for charity, all that keep on giving it to me. Outrageous!" Noel gallantly suggests afterwards, seated at an abandoned organ.

ABBA – Fernando
ABBA performances never stand up to being deconstructed as at least they knew stagecraft, though Benny's giving it a go on the close-ups.

Paul Nicholas – Reggae Like It Used To Be
There's a flying start to this one as Noel lists Paul's entire musical and film CV over the intro, then states "this is going to be very successful forrrrrrrr... this man!" Noel, after all that build-up, clearly forgets who's warming up behind him even though he must have had cue cards, a script, access to rehearsals, memory etc. It turns out that's the least of our problems.

The mid-70s has latterly been tagged as the Golden Age Of Reggae. It was the year of King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown, Police And Thieves and Super Ape. Burning Spear, Big Youth, Dillinger, Max Romeo and U-Roy were all active. Marley had his biggest Billboard chart hit. A year later came Heart Of The Congos, Two Sevens Clash and Don Letts playing dub plates to punks at the Roxy. And yet someone saw fit to hire the bloke from Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar, give him a bowler hat and a thick pinstriped jacket (with nothing underneath) and have him sing about how the only reggae for him is from the good old days despite seemingly having no more knowledge of the genre then he would about sheet metal turning. The BBC orchestra and backing vocalists aren't helping, true (here he is miming to the recording elsewhere for comparison), but then the song devolves into a sax solo and an increasingly obtuse manner that turns the titular word into a verb: "You can reggae Beethoven, reggae anything you see". How does one go about reggaeing Beethoven, Paul? We never find out.

What we can say for it, as we were tipped off about this by celebrated DJ about town and latter day Paul Weller associate Andy Lewis, is it had a properly great psychedelic B-side:

The Beatles – Paperback Writer
"The resurgence of interest in the Beatles is going on and on and on" says Noel, which makes me wonder how much of a recursive resugence there could technically have been six years after their split. Four in the top 30, two more between 31 and 50, and commemorated by Pan's People in fringed white jumpsuits reading paperbacks at various distances between spins. In the round too, showing audience members more bemused than fond reminiscence ever suggests. Where do you get that many full book carousels in a hurry anyway? One book on prominent display is about the Third Reich, so they're not picky.

10cc – I’m Mandy Fly Me
An adapted concert clip in which proper live footage has four-part vocal harmonies in a line and acoustic guitar battles edited in amid a new slow fade every second. Studio tape worn through with overdubs, as per.

Linda Lewis – Baby I’m Yours
The old favourite, a disco soul singer put out on her own with no real idea of what to do once there. The forever being revived vocal range scraper gives the uncertain swing a go. "How does she get her hair like that? She must do it with rollers..." Noel envisages, partly as link to the next performance but instead making many wonder about him.

Bay City Rollers – Love Me Like I Love You
Compared to what's been presented as show so far, the Rollers have taken up pop Nuremberg. They start atop a huge globe, spinning clockwise around Eric Faulkner amid showers of sparks in slow motion. Then there's a lengthy close-up of Eric on a swing. One of the band attempts to juggle some small silver spheres. The band are put through lightning quick directorial cuts. There's a lengthy close-up of someone's crotch. Now all five are swinging around for no reason. None of this goes in any way with the song, which is chirpy and upbeat in a forgettable way.

The Four Seasons – Silver Star
Noel uses the intro to plug the later appearance of Frankie Valli. Not entirely sporting when confronted with a band boasting an invisible flute intro and a singing drummer. Not only had they changed since their heyday, they seem to have changed style since the previous year's December 1963 (Oh, What a Night) into a speedy shuffle about Westerns. The drummer really goes at his kit between vocals too.

The Carpenters – There’s A Kind Of Hush
Pan's People are back and they're dancing on podiums next to a large globe ("all over the world", see). Flick very much making do in a rush.

Sheer Elegance – Life Is Too Short Girl
There's some confusion online as to whether these came from Opportunity Knocks or New Faces. They don't seem to have won either, maybe because the world wasn't ready for a poor man's The Real Thing. Mainly because The Real Thing hadn't had any hits yet, in truth. But with their mix of matching tartan waistcoats over yellow dungarees over paisley shirts with collars that stretched to the shoulderblades, who could resist?

Frankie Valli – Fallen Angel
Before Valli, though, Noel gets to talk to Eric Carmen. All By Myself was about to come out but Noel had made his album his record of the week. Carmen, resembling a ruffled Julian Cope and wearing a shirt open enough to reveal a tablespoon sized medallion, really isn't keen on being interviewed and even less so when he realises once that's finished he's got to stand behind Noel for the rest of the intro looking like a lemon. The cameraman then takes so long to zoom onto Valli that we see Carmen get bored and start wandering off, only for Noel to grab him and indulge in further chat. Carmen then has to grab someone else by the arm and get them to move out of the way of the marauding camera as it attempts to mow several more down, unfortunately going nowhere near the man in a huge red and white pillarbox hat with tassles off the back. The performed piano ballad much less interesting. No wonder they cut Valli off early with that competition.

Brotherhood Of Man – Save Your Kisses For Me
Between last week and this the 'hood have gone to The Hague and pissed Eurovision, helping it become the year's biggest selling single. Back over on STN we're going to do some Eurovision-related charts in the week leading up to this year's gathering so we'll save further detail for then, save for this example of what a foreign film crew can achieve with a budget stretching to four bobby's hats from a fancy dress shop. OK, we know Eurovision songs have to be sung live, so when they all gather in the same shot how do we clearly hear the girls' first "I love you"s?

And at the end, some Barry White and a multi-lens shot of that globe. Like the thing now straddled by British pop, eh?


georgethe23rd said...

Excellent blog Simon

23 Daves said...

Damn! "Lamplighter" is cued up as an entry on "Left and to the Back" next week. I just felt the need to say that in case you were under the impression I was pilfering ideas.

Nice work on this episode summary, btw.

FishyFish said...

Glad you commented on the camera antics, which were ace; from the disembodied arm pushing someone out of the way, to the startled and worried looks from the people in it's path as the camera relentlessly glided towards the stage, gradually gaining altitude over the audience as it went. Brilliant.

Great blog!

wilberforce said...

in the bay city rollers video, i'm sure the guy in the middle with the others spinning around him at the beginning is not eric faulkner, but (a rather sheepish looking) bassist alan longmuir. alan left the band at around this point (he was older than the rest and either jumped through embarrasment at being a teen idol or was pushed to make way for a younger more suitable replacement), so he swiftly disappears and the new model is then heavily featured throughout the rest of the video, presumably in a symbolic gesture of passing of the torch...? you see, there was an actual purpose to the video - even a band like the rollers had hidden depths ha ha...

on a general note, great not only to see the beeb finally getting their fingers out when it comes to their vast pop archives, but that someone is prepared to make the effort to keep tabs on it all for the benefit of all us anally-retentive nostalgics!

wilberforce said...

another observation: one of the advantages of watching these old TOTP's in this day and age is (unlike then) you can tape them on video (or even DVD if you know how!) and then fast-forward through the stuff you think is rubbish...

well, that's how i've been watching them so far, but reading this blog i see i may be missing out. the frankie avalon clip is a prime example - i wasn't prepared to watch some old has-been smoothie singing a dreary ballad, so i missed out on the "marauding camera" moment...

i guess i'm going to have to watch them all the way through now just for similar incidents (with the sound turned off if necessary ha ha) - either that or catch up with them on youtube having been primed by this blog (as i have with frankie valli)...

that reminds me - i remember seeing one TOTP in 1981 (can't recall what song it was despite having seen it again more recently on TOTP2 reruns), and at the start some guy wanders in front of the camera sporting a classic punk-style bogbrush haircut, completely oblivious to the act! assuming they keep showing these old episodes of TOTP i'll only have to wait another 5 years to see that again ha ha!

Simon said...

Incidentally, if you've ever wanted to see AN ACTUAL VIDEO for Reggae Like It Used To Be, MTV obligingly have one archived. As you can hear the BBC orchestra didn't do that good a job at replicating Nicholas' irie heart, but also consider that Bohemian Rhapsody was only a year past.

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

No one seems to have noticed that the video for The Bay City Rollers Love Me Like I Love You shows band member Alan Longmuir leaving the band IN THE MIDDLE OF THE VIDEO. He's there at the start but half way through is replaced by 17 year old Ian Mitchell!
Bassist Alan Longmuir had a year off at this point as he was suffering from exhaustion and they decided to introduce his replacement in this way. Bizarre.

Simon said...

And Mitchell left after seven months, telling Rolling Stone "I'm getting out before I stick my head in a gas oven". Well, Noel could have told him where to get one from.

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

Simon the guy you refer to in the huge red and white top hat is actually a woman! She is a huge distraction and was also visible in the Hot Chocolate and Four Seasons performances.

The Four Seasons song is much better in in its extended form on the single's B-side. It's about dreaming of escaping from a boring 9-5 life and being a cowboy, an idea Jeff Lynn nicked the ides for ELO's Wild West Hero. I was 14 when I bought this and never knew what the lyrics in the second verse were and used to mumble something about Rudolf Valentino when I sang along. They turn out to be "In my dream I make much dinero, Chasin' the Bandelleros".

daf said...

Absolutely incredible Pans People routine to Paperback Writer. It's my favourite one of theirs (of the brief amount of them we saw) before 'Ruby Flipper' took over and then mutated into 'Legs and Co.' (I noticed Sue was in all three dance troupes too - well done there, tenacious Sue!)

If you listen closely, this is the Mono mix of 'Paperback Writer' (all The Batchie-Beatles singles were mono till 1969, of course) which has a distinctive bit of 'clanging' echo on the guitar that's missing from the stereo version. (which would be the version you hear on the radio these days - the fools).

The 10cc song was another ear-opener for me - I liked it so much I ended up with four of their albums (though there's nothing quite as good as this, 'Blackmail' from the previous album is a corker.)

Linda Lewis gives 'one in the eye' for all those saying it was all miming on the Pops - she really gives this one a good workout all over the octaves (though the Pops Orchestra sounds like they get a bit tired and confused at one point - still, that proves even the backing music is live - So suck on that, The 'so called' Clash!) . . . and she's still going as Noel starts up his next link - what an Iincredible voice!

Sadly, after that terrific trio, it all collapses into mush - the low point being the two-fisted punch of the awkward Eric Carmen interview (only bettered in awfulness when old 'Swap Shop' interviews 'Bread' in a future episode), and Frankie Valli - with a song so weak and half baked, it should be taken outside and thrashed around the private parts with a rolled up copy of The Beezer!

Also, (screwing in my monocle) he appears to be wearing . . . a Medalion.

The man is beyond redemption!