Friday, 22 April 2011

TOTP 22/4/76: with the ring dang doo

Diddy David Hamilton's our man this week. Somewhat of a Radio 1 nostalgia B-teamer, yet he of everyone we've seen so far was the most typically Mike Smash-like and was on the primary Pops presenter list for it. At this time he was simulcasting on Radios 1 and 2 and earned the nickname 'the housewife's choice'. Fair to say that nobody on dashing hipy young Radio 1 should have been any sort of housewife's choice, which may have been the problem. Now he pretends to admire that Michael Jackson statue and the eclectic striker stylings of Bobby Zamora for money. Anyway, Diddy is wearing a jumper with 'THE BIG ONE' on the back and a Radio 1 247 logo on the front with the collar of a red and white striped shirt peeking out over the top. With his Partridge-like parting as well - and we know it's the height of obviousness to compare a DJ to Smashie & Nicey and Partridge, let alone both in the same paragraph, but the oleaginousness is none more pronounced - you have to wonder why the spoofery didn't occur to anyone sooner.

Laurie Lingo and the Dipsticks are in the top 20, which must have caused furrowed brows among the production team. Don't worry, they'll be on soon enough and we're preparing things to say about it already. Meanwhile a photo of Hank Mizell has been found, in which he's standing with his guitar in the middle of a woodland clearing.

Jimmy James & the Vagabonds – I’ll Go Where Your Music Takes Me
It might say that, but at first look it seems like no Vagabonds the soul revue second division outfit would have known. In fact the original Vagabonds had split in 1970 and James formed a new backing band in 1974 when based in England, and in their matching grey suits, red shirts, shaggy hairdos and sheer semi-distracted air of £7 an hour for hire no band can surely look more like they've been dragged up from the working men's club circuit. As we first see Jimmy he's indulging in light larks of a conversational gee-up hue with the guitarist, who isn't paying him the blindest bit of notice. Maybe he's trying not to acknowledge some nasal female backing vocals that have been mixed on the same level as James' own and the world's least effective vibes solo. Meanwhile, someone in the front row wears a morning suit top hat with what looks like a crepe paper rose on the front. Nobody's getting sweaty here.

John Miles – Music
No explanation why the whole of Miles' band are in his rundown picture. It's the same performance as three weeks ago, with Miles' ineffectual guitar soloing at the piano and the bit that sounds like the theme to Blake's Seven. Despite this extra time I still can't work out if he's wearing a biker's jacket, a T-shirt with epatulets or a tabard.

Harpo – Movie Star
"Our next star sings shoeless and with a bicycle bell on his walking stick". Funnily enough, Harpo failed to turn this into a hitmaking career that lasted for longer than one number 24 single. His extra affectations - tartan cap, neckerchief, David Soul cardigan, tremendous amounts of hair, pronounced accent when singing live - don't add up to the sort of thing that makes careers either. To compensate for his clothing box ransacking he developed a full range of interpretative hand signals, as can be seen on this clip from TOTP2 when Stuart Maconie was writing the captions and couldn't think of anything to say about his oeuvre either. Extreme close-up!

Anni-Frid is on backing vocals on the recording, which reminds someone...

ABBA – Fernando
Third appearance in four weeks! And it's not even ***SPOILER*** number one yet. It's the promo clip from week one, for the record. This is going to be a very drum-hearing late spring on BBC4.

Sheer Elegance – Life Is Too Short Girl
On two weeks ago as well! But the poor man's Temptations are back in the studio for a second go, still in that remarkable get-up of tartan waistcoats, yellow all-in-ones and paisley shirts with huge collars. You'd think they'd have at least made this "Sheer Elegance's infamous yellow all-in-one uniform" by now, but as they're wearing blue suits with ridiculously large black with white polka dot collars in their chart rundown picture this must be a uniform specific to this song. They're trying to get some swaying in unison going too, except one of them steadfastly refuses to play ball. No wonder people remember Lenny Henry and Marti Caine instead from the 1975 New Faces intake.

The Rubettes – You’re The Reason Why
As if to prove the real power of a uniform, the Rubettes had ditched the flat caps and matching pastel suits by this stage, turned into a wet boogie band and accordingly only had one more hit. Maybe what really turned things was what they went for here, with one member dressed as a sitcom bus conductor and Alan Williams revealed as looking like Alan Freeman. It takes mere seconds for the drummer to wink at the rostrum camera. Diddy David calls it "incredible".

Hank Mizell – Jungle Rock
"Once again we have some very good news for the fellas". Yeah, cheers. Another re-run, but some repeat performances are worthwhile so as the viewer can take in the level of attention to detail. The BBC props and costume departments have long been the envy of the television world.

Someone uploaded that just after the first showing so we can now gain more of an understanding on some of the big questions. For example, are those convincing outfits - alligators look just like that, of course - inhabited by ver People? Well, the 'gator seemingly has evident breasts but otherwise it's unclear. It's not the same people in the camel and elephant, we can say that almost for certain, as the camel is quite reticent about moving more than one leg at once whereas the pretend pachyderm is going for it with running man-like gusto. You could ask what sort of jungle houses a fox, rabbit, camel and kangaroo, but you'd have had to take that up with Mizell directly had he not died in 1992. One set of lyrics claims a "great big falcon" appears just after the alligator and what Flick interprets as a leg-shaking grizzly bear is in fact "all the fish stepped by", but both are indistinct and completely confuse jungle ecosystem matters. And then there's the issue of the girls themselves and what sort of faces they're pulling to camera when not asked merely to express neutral seduction for three minutes. We point for specific evidence to 1:34. Hope we all appreciated Cherry Gillespie's spirited waggling of her arse direct to camera in time for the lyric "I moved a little closer just to get a better view". Having seen Tony Blackburn make a joke about him out of the first showing, Hamilton obligingly makes a joke about Blackburn this time.

This was the last time this appeared on Pops, so here's the Fall's cover, which appears on a fascinating new album called Beyond The Fall of originals of songs Mark E taught us, and a note that Legs & Co redid Jungle Rock for the Christmas show, which is here. Despite the paucity of clothing, the ramping up of cliches, developed setting, Tony Blackburn cameo that takes far too long and leaves him with nothing to do for two minutes and frankly nightmare inducing new animal costumes just make it too crowded. Look at the end, there's so little room left that everyone all but gives up on proper dancing.

Gilbert O'Sullivan – Doing What I Know
Although the knot of kids behind him seem keen, the insistent electric piano sound didn't translate to chart business and he only bothered the top 40 once more, in 1980. One of the audience already seems to be copying Noosha Fox's haircut.

Brotherhood Of Man – Save Your Kisses For Me
"It's a hit all over the nations" David enthuses somewhat ungrammatically. Back to the studio performance, and we're pretty sure there is already nothing else that can be said about this. April 1976 was very much a studded denim jacket/wrongfooting last line sort of month. Hamilton claims four people are "going mad" around him, Andrea True Connection play us out, and we still wait for the great leap forward. Unbeknownst to most, the Wurzels are only three weeks away.

EDIT NEWS: The major discard this week is a Pan's People routine involving the girls in bra/crop tops. And it was their penultimate week on the show too. Have some respect, BBC4. The song is You Sexy Sugar Plum by funk-soul variable attraction Rodger Collins, the routine one of those where having got the girls dressed down Flick can't really think of much to do with them. There was also a video for the Sutherland Brothers' classic rock staple Arms Of Mary, presumably the same Bay City Rollers Love Me Like I Love You video as the first week and, perhaps left out because enough people on Twitter go on about the imminence of punk, Keith Emerson. Honky Tonk Train Blues is a cover of boogie-woogie trailblazer Meade Lux Lewis and is basically a man playing barrel roll piano at great speed. How Pops would have staged that one, and how the dancing kids would have reacted to it without starting to smoke from the heels slightly, will remain a mystery.


wilberforce said...

a pretty dull episode this week - even the rubettes who could normally be relied upon to liven things up seemed comparatively downbeat, making the mistake of giving their guitarist the chance to sing one of his own "serious" songs. so the only real thing of interest was david hamilton, or to be more specific, david hamilton's curious hairstyle.

perhaps he really deluded himself that having a side parting half-way down his head was some kind of statement of being fashionable in a mature kind of way, but more likely as with most prematurely-balding men of his generation, an attempt to hide his thinning locks that ironically only drew more attention.

if you look at the gallery on his website you'll notice he had already started cultivating this comical coiffure by the time he was in his late 20's... but when did the combover stop and the toupee begin? take a look at his site to draw your own conclusion:

Old Applejack said...

If nothing else, my wife was appreciative of another chance to see Cherry Gillespie's rump-shaking. Go figure.

That Gilbert O track was immensely poor. I'd been blissfully ignorant of it before and I can see why it didn't make it onto his Greatest Hits collection (the one that I've got anyway).

My wife has also spent the last four weeks trying to work out who the dark-haired girl from the BoM reminds her of. The blonde-ish one is clearly like Kate Garraway, but any suggestions for the other one?

Adam Maunder said...

Did Hank Mizell never appear on the show himself, then? Shame if not. Agree that this edition was fascinating if poor, with Jimmy James being my highlight because I adore the man's voice, while acknowledging that the song wasn't exactly up to much. (Fine blog by the way, sir.)

Simon said...

That same Fall covers compilation claims he went on the show but as far as I can tell he's not listed again, though YouTube suggests he did do some promo work in Europe for it.

Arthur Nibble said...

Possible spoiler alert regarding the successors of the successors of Pan's People - according to Wikipedia (if you believe it), the BBC don't have a copy of the ToTP edition where, after three weeks shown as '????' on the credits, Legs & Co. are formally introduced by DLT. Yet another gap in the schedule looms?

Steve Williams said...

My dad once said that he was always told The Rubettes packed it in because they were so awful on television and their management couldn't be doing with it anymore. The drummer was certainly trying too hard. The guitarist on the right looked like Dick Emery in toothy vicar guise.

I suppose it's like The Motors having to re-release their album as the first release had a picture of them on the cover and they were so ugly nobody bought it.

Simon said...

Arthur Nibble: there's quite a few gaps in the listings I use as we get into the autumn, some of which I know are due to strike action (got more precise details of these, Steve W?) The 11th and 18th November shows, which would cover the fourth Legs & Co appearance, are among the gaps. Otherwise, Noel permitting, the next gap the list has is 1st July.

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

I suppose Harpo was so-called because of his resemblance to the late Harpo Marx. It's a shame he couldn't copy every trait of the Marx Brother and keep his gob shut. It always bugged me that in the choruses he sings "Movie star, oh movie star, you think you are a movie". No, your friend thinks he's a movie star Harpo, not a movie. A movie is a series of moving pictures on celluloid. If your friend thought he was one of those that would be just silly.

And Sheer Elegence. They're far from it. Do you think anyone reported them for contravening the Trade Descriptions Act?

I love this late Beatles-McCartney-influenced Rubettes song. Very impressive that the band had three vocalists. If you don't like how they look, close your eyes and listen. It's a superb song.

Every time Diddy David introduces or back announces an act he holds his arm outstretched in a slightly awkward way as if he had read a book on how to be a presenter but didn't really have the aplomb or enthusiasm to carry it off.