Friday, 27 May 2011

TOTP 20/5/76 (tx 26/5/11): disco stew

And in our weekly series of 'what are they playing at?', having skipped a Saville episode next week TOTP isn't on at all on 6th June, though it does definitely return the following week when of course it'll be back up to date, as it were. Why they couldn't have had a break next week for that purpose is their pregorative.

"This is one programme I can introduce standing on my head" quoth the Diddy. The picture flips. "See what I mean?" No, David, not technically.

Marmalade – Walking A Tightrope
And it's a jolt of anti-nostalgia immediately as Marmalade have a golliwog on their dual drum heads, shown in obliging close-up right at the start. No, Marmalade, that's Robinson's Jam there. (Obvious reasons, of course, but there's a huge character brand that hasn't made the collective memory leap despite being among the most famous there was in its day - I was watching Bob Godfrey's Oscar winning Brunel cartoon Great not long ago and he makes a cameo in that) Otherwise it's four grinning men of indeterminate hair volume, and in the case of the singer a luxurious full moustache, who'd had their big hit eight years previously, reformed in 1975 after that lineup fell apart, had scored a surprise top ten single in February and thought they could follow it with a slight concoction heavy on Radio 2 (as in what it was like back then) strings. They didn't. Plus point: the drummer looks like Noel Edmonds would had he been accidentally swapped at birth with a Bee Gee. "The only thing to offer Marmalade is a toast" says David, in a joke that looks far more workable written down than the way he delivers it. Then he tells a joke about a tightrope walker. He's on it tonight, ladies and gentlemen.

Tina Charles – Love Me Like A Lover
In blowsy frilly top and huge red skirt Charles comes across as less disco diva, more minor character in Little House On The Prairie.

Robin Sarstedt – My Resistance Is Low
David obligingly quotes the lyrics in introduction. With a costume and set borrowed from the Havana bureau, pot plants breaking out all over, and without dancing backup Sarstedt looks a little lost for staging, trying to exude international man of travel and mystery loucheness through being seated on wicker next to a table bearing a decent bottle and glass of rose. He just looks like he's waiting for inspiration to strike but this'll do for the rehearsal. Trying to add something to it a woman's face, presumably a Flipperite but we're no good at recognition, appears in overlay but all that does is make the director miss the appearance on screen of a camera. Then he takes a sip during the middle eight, after which he looks simultaneously sated, smug and distracted. Never a good look. As a last ditch effort, he looks to the side and grins to camera. By now he's clearly regretting not putting out the shorter single option. We get a brief look at him in the background once Hamilton starts again, and he's clearly broken down in laughter. He was a one hit wonder. You don't seem shocked.

Showaddywaddy – Trocadero
As a 'waddy guide we're well past Three Steps To Heaven but still six months short of kettle drum frenzy Under The Moon Of Love. Dual vocalists, one of whom sounds exactly like the R Whites Lemonade singer, but with just two guitars, one bass and one drummer, and it's one of their own so you'd think they'd have planned for that, two of the famously overmanned band are reduced to dancing duties, most of which the camera fails to pick up. Despite being a song about dancing with girls down the palais nobody would slash their cinema seat to something this thin. At this point in real life actual teddy boys were busy beating up punks. Showaddywaddy are still going with three original members, albeit two being a bassist and drummer. They're playing Summer Sundae festival in August on the same day as Wilko Johnson plays a smaller stage. It's like this very year all over again.

Wings - Silly Love Songs
Ruby Flipper's only appearance this week, and Diddy obligingly points out that it's just Cherry, Patti and Lulu. The whole male angle of the new team being sidelined three weeks in, then. That said, the girls are wearing bikini bottoms they might well have been shoehorned into and tops that pretty much do their intended job and use up no extra material. A group of candles is what passes for a backdrop. Before long the curse of Flick Colby Short Lead-In Time Choreography kicks in, quizzical looking around for "I look around me" a particular highlight amid the flailing and shaking. Meanwhile Ms Gillespie is confirmed as the queen of the cutaway close-up facial expression.

Mud – Shake It Down
David has two Mud fans with him, insomuch as they're wearing tinsel encrusted stovepipe hats and rosettes with Les Gray's face on. Somehow, and I'm fully aware of Rob Davis' subsequent CV (he's co-credited for this song), Mud doing funk disco is even more ludicrous a concept this week. This clip is from their Noel-fronted first appearance, but let the record show what was going on here.

IT'S JUST LIKE STUDIO 54. No green trousers this week, but the bassist still has that glove on and the guitar solo and breakdown are overlaid with that girl Cherry in some sort of Spanish influenced dress shaking that thing of hers again. The band look no younger or less cab driver-like either. They bow at the end, which is nice of them. "Have you ever shaken it down? You wanna try it some time, you could get to like it" David says, propositioning a much younger girl.

The Four Seasons – Silver Star
Same performance as last time. Check the tags for that.

Cliff Richard – Devil Woman
Not the same performance. Just before two of the girls surrounding him nearly contrive to throw themselves in front of a marauding camera David seems to think said woman is Cliff's confidante, even though the song clearly states that's really not what he wants. Worth noting Cliff's 'I'M NEARLY FAMOUS' T-shirt (over a wide lapelled blue shirt) promoting his album, which he distributed around his most famous friends so they could be seen wearing it at social functions, and indeed David is wearing a badge with the same slogan on. Now that's a level of viral marketing the likes of which that agency group Lost In Showbiz and Caitlin Moran are always going on about need to look into. Cliff's jeans are still far too tight for someone of his age and experience. "I think we've made 64 entries" he boasts afterwards. Neither host nor performer has anything else to say.

ABBA – Fernando
Again with that bloody fire. Still, won't be up there by the time we catch up with the series again. Diddy signs off with as many people as he can find from the show surrounding him. Les Gray is clearly eyeing up Tina Charles. Tina Charles, while maybe not having spotted him, is clearly terrified. I need someone from our fantastic commenting community to look at this and confirm what Hamilton says to Charles immediately before introducing the O'Jays playout, because it sounds spectacularly rude to me.

EDIT NEWS: Sutherland Brothers again, the Stones again and, with the re-run's third talkbox, a promo for Peter Frampton coming alive with Show Me The Way with his name in huge lights over the stage.


Steve Williams said...

This was a very curious episode as Dave is clearly in the studio alone with Robin Sarstedt, with no audience, so I assumed that there was simply no audience that week and Dave was just stringing together pre-recorded performances and a few low-key studio bits, only for an audience to turn up halfway through and indeed all the participants gathered on stage at the end. Worth it for those two girls almost falling off the stage before Cliff.

The thing about Marmalade's golly logo is that whenever the subject of old TOTP or Pick of the Pops comes up on the internet, it always descends into Gary Glitter, the PC brigade, Orwellian cuts, all that from some crashing bored. Then they show that.

You'd have to say, if they ever did 30 Rock The Ballet, Cherry Gillespie would be a shoo-in for the role of Jenna.

Simon said...

For any fans of the fragrant Cherry, from 1:57 in this clip here she is in a padded suit doing some old skool-style rapping: (I've also just found the clip itself and edited an embed in so you can see that staging for yourselves)

Arthur Nibble said...

Diddy says to our Tina *Can you do that with your mouth?" as if Miss Charles has just trumped for Britain.

Didn't Robin Sarstedt ever practice the last note of his song? He's ballsed it up twice in a row now. The lady inlaid (so to speak) is the lovely Patti out of the 'Flip.

Talking of the dance troupe, nice to see Floyd, Gavin, Philip and Sue get an end credit for naff-all involvement in the show.

As for Cliff, a pair of Iggy Pop trousers, but where's the friendly tobacconist gone?

Finally, the piece de resistance, the second sighting in this series of Showadddywaddy's 'Trocadero'. It was shown on BBC4's ToTP 1976 documentary as a clip over which singer Dave Bartram said "If you got on Top of the Pops you were guaranteed top 10". This got on ToTP and reached number 32!

wilberforce said...

thanks to this blog i'm starting to watch this program as if it's some kind of academic assignment rather than sheer mindless entertainmemt, watching certain bits over and over again and making mental notes, as the following entries attest. still, it passes the time...

1 - marmalade were were a real anachronism even then - they should have been filed away in the "where are they now" folder along with fellow forgotten 60's relics such as the tremeloes and the casuals... and they sounded like they were still stuck in the 60's with this utterly lightweight effort that was probably penned by that prince of pop piffle tony macauley (who was to clog up the charts with his whimsy again a couple of years later via the david soul/hutch cash-in). still, the sickly orchestral arrangements gave johnny pearson and the boys plenty to get their teeth stuck into. also, watch out for the bassist's rather peculiar "picking upwards with a plectrum" technique...

2 - with the chart failure of their own rather convoluted "trocadero" perhaps it was no surprise that showaddywaddy changed tack and stuck to covering simple 50's oldies from then on (and don't forget the "novelty" element of promoting their black drummer to the frontline as "mr bass man")... also, on the barnet front (which regular readers may be aware is a favourite topic of mine), it seems their desire to show their love for the quiff-dominated 50's yet not seem out of touch with contemporary fashion inadvertently gave birth to the mullet! there are several contenders for "best mullet" award here, but the prize has to go to the big guitarist on the left... however the singer always made me laugh as despite wearing the standard issue crepes and drapes, he always stuck resolutely to his ultimate 70's 'do of floppy middle-parting shoulder-length david cassidy-style layered look...

3 - despite mud's clowning around and antics on TOTP, i believe they were more than competent musicians, but what i'd like to know is: were they ever allowed to play on the chinnichap hits, or was it session musicians? to my knowledge, nobody has ever admitted exactly who did what - can anyone shed any light?

4 - when that camera goes past those girls at the start of cliff's spot, to throw in a retro-topical observation, they react as if they've just seen jaws in the water!

Old Applejack said...

Good work everyone. My own two pennorth for this week:

1) Good to hear the Frampton tune again. I'm no big fan of either him or the song, but it's aaaages since I last heard it. It was played an awful lot on Beacon Radio (Wolverhampton) in the early 90s, for some reason.

2) Who does Mud bassist Ray Stiles remind me of? These past weeks are the first time I've ever seen these performances and all I've been thinking is "He looks like...?" I've never thought it before, so it must be something to do with the hair.

3) As stated in the Blog, the Flick dancing textbook was well-revised for this effort. All the 'I Love You's were suitably acted out. Seems to me there was a bit where Lulu lost it a bit and just gave up for a few seconds until she could get back in time. Also, the wife has really developed something for Cherry. I think this is a good thing.

Steve Williams said...

Is it Richard Beckinsale who Ray from Mud looks like? Actually most people in the seventies look like Richard Beckinsale. Incidentally, the other week someone asked who the brunette from Brotherhood of Man looked like, what with the blonde clearly being Kate Garraway. I think the lookalike might be a young Arlene Phillips.

Looking again at the gang on stage at the end, though Mud, Marmalade, the Showads, Ruby Flipper and Tina Charles are on stage, Robin Sarstedt and Cliff are not, so Robin's bit must have been recorded ages before anyone else turned up.

Inicentally, Simon, surely you'd have been thrilled by Dave's "Leicester, you can be proud of them!" after Showaddywaddy on the uncut version.

Chris Brown said...

"I used to go out with a lady who was a female tightrope walker". Thanks for clearing that up, Diddy.

Atypically clumsy edit there, on the way into 'Silly Love Songs' - obviously they had to drop the hilarious "You'd be a fool to cry looking at these lovely ladies" joke, but it's a real jump cut.

I actually prefer this Mud performance to the other one becuase you get to see them enjoying the intro. Also good to see the woman determinedly clutch her handbag during while Diddy talks to the fans and a great fingerclicking moment.
I quite like the song too but it's hard to find legitimately.

I didn't realise I knew this Four Seasons song. Possibly because it doesn't sound much like them, apart from the fact that it's a bit crap.

I wonder why they're showing the Abba video when they clearly have a studio performance in the can?

And the BBC subtitles do indeed say "Can you do that with your mouth?"

Arthur Nibble said...

A-hah! The fade-out song finally gets a mention and the song in question, 'Living For The Weekend' by The O'Jays, was a complete non-top 50 flop. I wonder how many ToTP editions were started and finished by songs which failed to make the chart at all? (Leave it, Arthur, let it go...)

PS - We've made gentle fun of her, but RIP Flick Colby, a TV dance troupe pioneer and one of the few who'll be looked on with affection. Somehow, I think Nigel Lythgoe for one won't deserve the same amount of leg-pulling platitudes.

Noax said...

In a minefield of MOR drivel this week (although I also have a soft spot for 'Show me the way', having in my case played it loads on the radio in the 90s!!) I actually really enjoyed 'Trocadero' as it was the only proper *performance* of the show other than Mud I suppose, but we'd already seen that being done. Mind you after Robin bloody Sarstedt anything would be good.

I was a huge fan of the 'Waddy when I was a kid, never really liked this song but actually found myself enjoying it a lot this time round.

I can only assume that the letters moaning about Ruby Flipper had hit RT by this point and that the male dancers were given a 'week off'. Shame, as on the whole they've been more entertaining than Pan's People.

Simon said...

Well, you'd assume that, but the following week (the one it looks like we're not getting) it was just the three blokes dancing in the studio, albeit to something with no discernible straight groove. (Admittedly the girls still got their own material-rationed routine. No idea about the following week)