Friday, 8 April 2011

Welcome along

You know what's great about BBC Four's reruns of Top Of The Pops as Robin Nash nature intended? The complete lack of contextualising. None of it is as people claim to remember it. There's not even opening titles, the CCS Whole Lotta Love instead playing out over stills of the top thirty, with a fish eye lens shot of an organ generally accompanying the yellow credits. The studio audience is small in number and little bothered about getting on telly. The acts are clearly of the pre-video age. And yet that's what makes it so much more fascinating than yet another trawl through well thumbed highlights. From 35 years' remove forgotten ideas of what the utmost pop was are far more fascinating than bloody Bowie and Ronson again. This isn't borrowed ironic nostalgia, I wasn't alive when these shows were being broadcast to a stagnant nation only just remembering that the working week had days four and five too. Divorced entirely from the tyranny of retrospective taste, Top Of The Pops stands as a fascinating memento to how odd populist musical taste was not that long ago.

With that in mind, this blog will take a detached eye on the staging and sounding of the TOTP repeats on a week by week basis until they give up and/or get the TOTP2 caption writer in. And you think it starts questionably; before the end of the year there'll be strike action, the controversial five month stint of Ruby Flipper (starting next month, in fact) and the Wurzels. In the outside world there'll be punk, but there's a reason the Sex Pistols' spat with Bill Grundy was last item with hastily and sloppily convened guests, and as first UK punk single New Rose only came out in late October (and failed to chart) it's not like it made much impact on sales or the whole ethos of a family-friendly chart music show produced by a variety veteran who did Pops between stints on Dixon Of Dock Green and Terry & June, despite what that documentary suggested. In any case Top Of The Pops, especially in this time capsule version, is its own pop microclimate.

WARNING: Yes It's Number One cannot support any campaign for the show's revival. Think about what the show was like in its dying days, then add both the thinnest veneer of irony and a post-X-Factor label stranglehold and then come back to me. This blog is merely a sounding post about the ways pop and television used to be done.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

simon you did a brill job in your stint on the TOTP Blog quick question can you put up a list of presenters for 1976 prior to 1/4/ when show started back on BBC4
are any of the earlier shows still around on utube or any other site ?
thanks pat