Friday, 3 June 2011

TOTP 27/5/76 (tx 2/6/11): Flipper's folly

ALERT! ALERT! As we well know by now trusting the advance listings is a fool's errand, but we're fairly confident in saying that because Cardiff Singer Of The World takes up that slot every other day that week, the next TOTP will be on MONDAY 13th at 7.30pm, with repeats in the usual Thursday and Saturday loose slots. No idea which weeks. Knowing BBC4, it'll be the one they've just missed out.

Also, to cover next week's fallow period there'll be a new Alternative Canon nomination every weekday. Suggestions through the usual channels.

So, after many references to the odd decision to skip a week we know exists, BBC4 decide to show it anyway. They just don't think of us in such circumstances. This'll be Jimmy Saville's first appearance on the show since New Year's Day, and to celebrate the CSO people have found a way to black out his head for the opening gag. You know in Smashie & Nicey: End Of An Era where they demonstrate the fun they had hosting the Populous? This bit? It's among the most realistic bits Enfield and Whitehouse came up with.

Special mention from the countdown this week for Mud, one of whom turned in for the publicity shot in a jacket adorned with the male symbol in rhinestones. Stay classy.

Heavy Metal Kids – She’s No Angel
Inevitably given the year, people have been only too keen to mention that (insert name of least favourite act on any given TOTP) must be the reason punk happened. Punk wasn't quite happening yet - at least one of the three weekly music papers hadn't even mentioned the Sex Pistols yet, and we don't get a punk single of any recognised stripe until late October - but we're not seeing a lot of the guitar music that prefigured it either. Thin Lizzy will be along before long, Queen had been and gone, but pub rock was hived off to the Old Grey Whistle Test while heavy metal's stirrings weren't yet for wider consumption, Black Sabbath past their peak, NWOBHM still in early beta testing. Heavy Metal Kids weren't all that heavy metal either, but they've been watching closely. Too closely, as if future Auf Weidersehen Pet actor Gary Holton's stage demeanour is anything to go by they knew the Alice Cooper School's Out performance, an umbrella replacing the fencing sword. Then he starts singing, a bit like Steve Harley, and it turns out to be a meat and potatoes pub rock Faces. The keyboard player borrows the Bon Jovi style a decade early and has a range of cock-o-the-walk struts and stances all lost because we can only see his top half behind a band banner. Holton eventually tries to get the audience going, and that's where he gets cut off.

JJ Barrie – No Charge
Also, much as we'd like to believe it, punk didn't happen as a reaction to sappy country hits. Barrie's in the studio again, not that it makes much difference, and he's got a backing 'singer' in overlaid half-light. Song is still awful.

The Wurzels – Combine Harvester
Should mention while the miracle of editing is helping Jim make audience members disappear that he's wearing a yellow vest with the show name on and decorated in the sort of glitter usually only found in school art departments. His hands must have been covered in Gloy for hours afterwards. There's a lot of going over old ground this week, literally in this case as there's a tractor on stage and the non-singers are sitting on the bonnet. A tractor is not a combine harvester, but that's BBC urbanites for you. Jim's on stage before the end so he can make the Wurzels disappear and the woman he vanished "to Birmingham" return in their stead. You know, we never would have imagined Noel Edmonds out of the then current presenting roster would be the musically inclined one, but such are the wiles of entertainment. Maybe he was just trying too hard.

Archie Bell and the Drells – Soul City Walk
Full bib and tucker on film. It's no fun writing this when it's a proper disco outfit, Gamble & Huff proteges in this case, with a fine record because as well as it being easier to critique shite, such outfits expect to put on a showbiz glitz performance so don't look out of place or attempting to fit in, from where we draw humour.

Mac & Katie Kissoon – The Two Of Us
Actually Gerald and Katherine Farthing. There you go. Katie is mixed up a lot higher than her brother here, so much so that by the break he's having to break out a few shimmies given he's practically inaudible. So is Jim's link, which is a shame as he goes right round the houses and doesn't actually properly name the mystery man standing to his right. Looking unimpressed by disco and/or this man he's expected to converse with, and less than two months after Tony Blackburn had deemed him untraceable, it's Hank Mizell, and all he has to share after such a long period of infamy is that his next single would be called Kangaroo Rock. Not cashing in at all, then. Seamlessly Jim then switches to holding up an album sleeve and inviting us to guess who it is on the cover.

David Bowie – TVC15
Somewhat spoiling the event, it's clearly David Bowie. Mind you, being after Station To Station it's possible people had forgotten what he actually looked like. After the girls got their turn last week it's the three men with one woman on screens at the back of the set and... well now.

That's been put up in the last 24 hours, that video, as the only previously available version was unembeddable. And a good thing too, as with one possible exception we'll post next week this was the most freeform Top Of The Pops dancing surely ever got. TVC15 is a pretty groove-free thing and thus pretty difficult to get a collective dance routine together to at short notice. This is apparently how Flick Colby, given a tribute in the link preceding the show, should be remembered. Basically it's three men, one dressed as a jockey, on a stylised living room set-ette making shapes on furniture, standing on their head and rolling around to the melodies in their heads. It does genuinely fade out at that stage, by the way, all possibilities already exhausted.

The Bellamy Brothers – Let Your Love Flow
The same face-off with acoustics as shown at least once already.

The Real Thing – You To Me Are Everything
At least Jim's interacting with the audience, getting the studio's bluffest youth to make the introduction (Jim: "Ooooh! Didn't catch him out!") Notable even among his wildly differently dressed colleagues Eddy Amoo sports an open yellow shirt and the world's largest brimmed Panama hat. Such distractions don't get to Jim, as he appears on the fringe of shot during the second chorus lining people up for his next link, his body language suggesting that he's always like that. His four friends, by the way, are wearing matching striped tops and massive Bay City Rollers tartan scarves tied around their necks, and one of the girls is wearing ludicrously high waisted trousers.

ABBA – Fernando
"At number one, dear friends, of course, Fernando. Abba. How are you. See you later." If you like, Jim. Their last week at the top. Literally, their fire was burning out. Why did they always play this when they had a perfectly good studio performance they only ever showed once? Afterwards Jim has a handful of friends encircling him, there's some playing with another hat and Wigan Casino favourite The Flasher by Mistura soundtracks the British Market Research Bureau's namecheck. More at a later date with some week's show or other.

EDIT NEWS: Ruby Flipper do Melba Moore's This Is It with podiums and streamers, and that Gladys Knight & the Pips performance again. See, they could repeat studio appearances when they fancied.


Anonymous said...

The old guy caught in shot, and quickly ducking down, during The Heavy Metal Kids performance was the best part of the whole show!

wilberforce said...

i checked out the heavy metal kids on wikipedia, and unbelievably they're apparently still around today, with the unavailable gary holton replaced by "nasty nick" from eastenders! (they were hardly "kids" in the 70's never mind now ha ha)...

btw i agree the "old guy" ducking out of camera shot was the classic moment of the show - he was he? what was he doing there? how did he get in? and what did he have to hide? i notice despite looking considerably more mature than the rest of the audience he was kitted out in the 70's smoothie outfit of open-necked shirt over jacket collar - maybe he was a bbc staffer (or a chum of saville's) who was out to pull a "bird", and he didn't want the missus to see him...?

Ullapoolharbour said...

Presumably the backing singer with JJ Barrie was the late Vikki Brown, who did the vocals on the record?

ximeremix said...

Old guy - best bit in quite a few episodes!!

Simon said...

Hands up, doing the write-up I somehow managed to miss Ducking Man, even though some people on Twitter saw him and it turns out even Steve Wright noticed. You'd imagine he might have been the floor manager, but he's too close to the crowd even if he has his back to them - note the two girls next to him. (And as that link's up, look at 1:50 as Holton realises where he put his umbrella)

While I'm here, if anyone reading this has ever longed for a Tumblr for semi-forgotten Britpop videos...

Noax said...

I enjoyed Sir Jim'll turning up this week unexpectedly and was deliriously happy that we actually got a 'UHuhUHuhUHuhUHuh, Goodness Gracious!' in one of the links.

I was wondering how long it would take you to mention the Smashie and Nicey Pops montage, they clearly did their research on that one (and of course the 'Nicey read my mind!' bit was a direct lift of one of Edmonds and Blackburn's bits of comedy business)

I don't want to 'come over all Lewis Hamilton' here but is it me, or is the black guy in Ruby Flipper getting the worst/strangely inappropriate costumes or what?!

Final observation - were The Real Thing that hard up at this point (clearly they wouldn't be for much longer...)that they couldn't get any decent costumes together? I remembered them being quite smart, but here it looked like someone had given them the BBC 'Dress Up Box' as used by Play School, Doctor Who etc.

Arthur Nibble said...

Great to see the Shepherds Bush freeform limbo champion during the Heavy Metal Kids. Moment of the re-run so far.

I assumed that Archie Bell and the Drells were indulging in some Music and Movement in their rundown shot, but was pleasantly surprised during their performance when our Arch, going freeform early doors, joined in the routine effortlessly in the second verse. Again, eat that, Sheer Elegance.

Old Applejack said...

Thanks to Steve Williams for his lookalikes help last week. I don't think it's Richard Beckinsale that Ray Stiles is bringing to mind, but I'm still not coming up with anything else. Also, the wife says that the brunette Brotherhood lady is not bringing to mind Arlene Phillips. I think we should take these mysteries to bed.

Mind you, staying with lookalikes, I read in Another Place that someone had the younger Bellamy Brother down as a Hugo Weaving-alike. I can buy that.

Not much to add to this week's offerings. Except for a totally irrational annoying thing about Combine Harvester. Mr Sousaphone pointing at himself on the word "I" and to the audience on "you". He does it every single bloody time in every single bloody performance! And he never makes any pretence at playing the damn thing either...

Steve Williams said...

Ah, never mind, I had a go. One of the things I like the best about The Real Thing is how badly dressed they are, I don't want to spoil it but in a couple of weeks the singer perfoms with a clearly home-made "U 2 ME R EVERYTHING" T-shirt which he's clearly made himself with some marker pens. I like how uncomfortable the rest of The Real Thing are, the one with the guitar who never seems to be quite sure how a guitar works, and the one third from the left who looks and dances like a brickie.

I loved the crew joining Jim for his final link, especially the ugliest and fattest being at the front. The Flasher is a brilliant song, my parents had it on seven inch and when I was young I used to love it, and on the documentary to launch this season, they showed a brief clip of Ruby Flipper dancing to it and I spent all weekend trying to remember what it was called, as I hadn't heard it for twenty years. In fact this was a great show for my parents as they saw The Real Thing live at the Buckley Tivoli when they were courting.

What was on the T-shirts of Jim'll's various young friends in the audience? "FIRESHOW 76"?

wilberforce said...

yes, "the flasher" was an early fave of mine too (i remember playing the single over and over again), but like steve, it's one of those that i had forgotten about and hadn't heard for years until fairly recent times - it still sounds pretty good, but i'm amazed to hear it was considered a northern soul favourite as it doesn't sound anything like the stuff that crowd usually got off on...

i remember the daily mirror running a competition around this time, and the prizes were tickets to see either status quo or the real thing live. as i was still quite into quo i entered and the good news was that i won. however the bad news was (despite making my preference clear in the application) the bastards sent me tickets for the real thing! although i was in the process of weaning myself off rock and onto funky disco sounds at the time, i certainly had no interest in the lightweight pop-soul brand the real thing were offering, so i threw the tickets away!

Egbert Guff said...

Due to a combination of factors, I was convinced that the Archie Bell & The Drells song was entitled "So Silly Walking".