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Here, then, is the sight and sound of someone who thinks they're clever about television. Noel is on the back of a camera gantry, headset and all. "I thought tonight's proceedings were going to be held in camera but in fact we're just mucking in" he explains. Presumably it meant something at the time, it's just with 35 years' hindsight they seem like a jumble of words. Is it to do with industrial action?
Sunfighter – Story Of The Drag Race Queen
Something we've heard a lot of in the shortish number of weeks we've been following 1976 is bands who heard one lot making a radio breakthrough three or four years earlier and thinking they can follow suit. Sunfighter and their hair metal coiffured singer (and 1987 Eurovision contestant) Rikki Peebles, proving they were ahead of their time in one respect if still the sort of cut one shouldn't be using near the word 'queen' lest it cause gender confusion to the near-sighted, obviously followed the Faces and Queen closely but once their big exciting power chord intro, uncomfortably close to that of the Manic Street Preachers' Australia, is over it might as well be a different song, one which Roger Taylor wrote, perhaps. The song is about a drag race driver, one who seems to enter every race convinced he's about to die in a crash which can't be good for positivity, and the sort of loose broad that generally only exists in 1960s coming of age B-movies. One of the surely overmanned three guitarists - maybe the one who is Sarah Harding off Girls Aloud's father, it's not implausible looking past his Noel Edmonds hair - gets the middle eight vocal. Maybe he won it in a bet. Tellingly, the band are all in white except the bass player, whose hooped T-shirt and jeans suggests a sessioneer ringer. Still, the audience are moving well, especially the five members dressed as sailors. Hamilton would have had them up on stage with him in no time.
Liverpool Express – You Are My Love
Them, and those visual flares, again.
The Beatles – Back In The USSR
"We Moscow, I'm sorry to Russia but we're off to see the Cossacks" Noel deadpans, or perhaps in retrospect finds as bemusing as the rest of us even if that sort of conceit is pure Edmonds. Doesn't work in print, obviously. Ruby Flipper time, and with something of literal heft to work with the costume department come up trumps - hammer and sickle flag, fake snow, barbed wire, big fur coats and woolly hats for the men, headscarves and big peasant dresses for the women with TOCG* grabbing the predominately/significantly virginal white dress. Beyond that it's a freeform version of lyrical expression, and yet again Floyd cops the worst of the first verse as he has to get across the concepts of reading and putting something on a knee while simultaneously prancing and - perhaps artist's own interpretation, this - expressing facial shock. The various chorus routines are wonders of combined movement, including some very decadent western twist-like moves. There's some pretend dragging to the gulags and a little chorus line hoofing but it's a full two minutes before Philip gets to unleash some cossack dancing before getting tired quickly. Sue gets to be Jojo, for the record.
* The Omnipresent Cherry Gillespie
Bobby Goldsboro – The Story Of Buck
Noel tells us that after Bobby's big hit Honey he'd been "sent many others in a similar vein". So much for diversifying. He also tells us this, which is also commonly known as A Butterfly For Bucky, is "a real heartstring tugger", which given we've only just got past the not all that dissimilar in lyrical tone No Charge is a bravura statement. It is admittedly hard to take in the emotional pull of a song when you're witnessing a camera charge through a group of people dancing much like they danced to Sunfighter - one gets a visible tap on the arm and makes off like it's a fire bell - but we're too cynical here in 2011 to really fall for a song about a blind child gifted sight by being landed on by a butterfly in a hospital, the moral being about the dreams of children or somesuch. Noel may reckon it's "as bad as peeling onions" - reaction, presumably, not the act - but the sailors are notably standing right behind the stage absolutely stock still for half the song, two of them eventually joining in for the clear sake of it. One hesitates to ever give Steve Wright the time of day, but there's a TOTP2 upload on YouTube and after Goldsboro has finished singing he bluntly notes "he lives in a world of his own, doesn't he?" Noel reckons with Tony Blackburn-like unerringness that this "could be very successful". It wasn't.
Dr Hook – A Little Bit More
"I fell for this song hook, line and sinker. I got rid of the line and sinker, here's the Hook". Oh bloody hell, Noel, just learn when to stop. Dennis Locorriere's beard is at ridiculous levels of length and depth, virtually two-tiered and topped off with shoulder-length hair that when put in a woodland glade as he is in this video makes him look like a native. Then at the end Ray Sawyer gets homoerotic with him, which nobody called for.
Glamourpuss – Superman
See, Arthur, they did manage it. Well, Noel's clearly got in tonight.
WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN. Making the Surprise Sisters look like Destiny's Child, this didn't chart and perhaps wisely there is nothing at all online about who these people were, unless the lead singer really is a bewigged Carol Vorderman. It's not all their fault, the backing is too brusque and someone's mixed the backing vocals over Carol, but someone decided that their best move would be for two of them to change places before the big finish. This might be why prime-time variety died.
Status Quo – Mystery Song
A live clip! The wind machine goes on full! The chords keep on changing between the three for basic boogie! Rick Parfitt shows some manly chest! Repeat to fade. It's not as good as Hugh Laurie's Mystery Song.
Jimmy James & The Vagabonds – Now Is The Time
The supper club Vagabonds are still in place, this time proving with a wah-wah guitar pedal and a disco hi-hat they can really coast along. For his part James is a consummate performer with a fine eye-popping expression, enlivening some slightly second division funk and enthralling suspiciously many kids in huge white caps.
Demis Roussous – Forever And Ever
"What is the really big thing in Greece at the moment? No, not a BBC hamburger". That doesn't even work, you don't get grease on hamburgers unless you're very clumsy. Interestingly it's not the same video as a couple of weeks ago, this one shot close in - very close in at times - at head height so we don't fully get to see what mighty outfit the genetic spawn of Danny Baker and Geoff Capes has on. Noel unsportingly calls him "the Greek Womble" before the Chanter Sisters' overtly blockbusting vocal on Sideshow sees us off into the night.
EDIT NEWS: Two moments of great interest. Second one first, there's Tavares' Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel as essayed by Ruby Flipper as angels and devils. Here it is, and note TOCG has the best fake crying in the business before later managing to stare out Floyd, who having had so much practice at becostumed indignity is on fine threatening form. For that he gets to take the last dance with TOCG and Lulu. All works out well in the end. Except, that is, for the Paul Nicholas-a-gram of television pop interpretative dance Gavin Trace, for whom this was his last show. According to Philip on the old TOTP2 site "Gavin, I think, was finding it hard to keep up, because of the pace and quick turn around. Flick again didn't make a big thing of it, she just asked whether he was happy in the group. He then just volunteered to leave. She dealt with it really well."
The other song not included in the pre-watershed version (and whether it was in the late night one I don't know at time of publishing, but let's treat this show as a fait accompli) was a cover of a Tavares US hit from the previous year, though it wouldn't chart here until 1986, which the more famous version of would be released much later by Take That. Now.. how are we going to tackle this? Bluntly?
Odd thing about that intro, which is largely why it's embedded here, is a suddenly reticent Noel is presenting this as King being revealed as the man behind the record, but in the rundowns both last week and this there's been a big photo of him and the 'band' have been referred to with his name in brackets afterwards. Not entirely surprising, that footnote's presence, King having gained the level of fame which meant Noel could introduce him as a mystery (despite the vocal style being recognisable) knowing the viewers would instantly know who he was through a certain level of projected self-regard running through his prolific work as recording artist, A&R, manager, producer, label boss and general man about town. Lulu gets a backup dancing gig still in her Back In The USSR gear. This was his last appearance as a singer on the show, though in the early 80s he'd occasionally pop in with a US chart update. And a million letters to Paul Dacre remained unsent.