Thursday, 28 July 2011

TOTP 15/7/76 (tx 27/7/11): look what the 'puss dragged in

First off, if you haven't clocked the sidebar or just didn't care, this blog has itself a Twitter account, not only with a feed of new posts on here but also daily (unless I'm away) On This Day In TOTP History YouTube posts. Go follow.

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.


Steve Williams said...

There was a cock-up on Virgin last night which meant BBC4 didn't have any sound during first transmission of this show (but it sorted itself out later, and had arrived on iPlayer by 9pm) but if ever there was a show meant for watching with the sound off, it was this one, what with the extreme close-ups of Demis Roussos, the remarkable Doctor Hook video, the shocked audience member during Bobby Goldsboro and, natch, the spectacular Glamourpuss. I liked how Noel's special favourite, the one second from the left, was the mumsiest of the lot. The best was the big tall one in the middle, obviously.

Jonathan King was edited out of the repeat too, the first time that's happened, but forgive me if I find it hard to care.

According to Missing Episodes, the Sunfighter song is just called Drag Race Queen, and Bobby Goldsboro is, as you say, A Butterfly for Bucky, and the reason they're both down as "The Story Of..." is because that's how Noel introduces them and the songs are so obscure people have just assumed that's the name.

Noel also recycled his "really big in Greece" joke at Christmas, though his target there was BBC potatoes. And it made DLT wet himself.

Steve Williams said...

Oh, also ace - the keyboard player from Jimmy James And The Vagabonds' "Jimmy James" elbow patches.

Chris Brown said...

To comment on the embed first: I do remember seeing that intro on some clip show many years ago, but they didn't include the whole song. What's with the bemused man in the sailor suit on the right?

wilberforce said...

still no let up on the surprises this week (not to mention rekindling of the old grey matter)...

SUNFIGHTER - simon's spot-on about the overmanned guitar section... and there wasn't even a solo! i was thinking "how come the bassist has got a hooped shirt and jeans instead of the all-white regalia of the rest"... and then i realised: it's the guy from fox! i don't know if he was ever an official member of the band, but from his "playing" he seems very familar with the song if not the look... yes, there's an obvious queen influence, and apparently they were also on EMI and produced by roy thomas baker - i wonder if they were booked as queen weren't available? if so then they didn't make quite the same impact as another of queen's labelmate replacements did here. btw, they completely changed their musical direction the following year with the funky disco instrumental "cafe a go-go"...

BEATLES - the producer should have said "we're not going to play your old records on TOTP unless you reform!"

BOBBY GOLDSBORO - apart from his suspicious brushed-forward barnet (was he watching tony blackburn?), there's nothing the slightest bit interesting about this guy... unlike the audience surrounding him. as simon says, most are making some kind of effort to bob and sway to the tune despite its lethargic nature, even if somewhat reluctantly like the two youths in cap-sleeved t-shirts with their hands in their pockets... but not the unimpressed sailor next to them (what were they doing there? were they real sailors? had they taken a break from performing "on the town" at the local theatre?) who resolutely refuses to move a muscle other than when he a: stoops down to peer at something in the far distance (land ahoy?), b: turns to the youths or his fellow seamen to make snide remarks, and c: best of all stands glaring at bobby with his arms folded and shaking his head in disgust, with a virtual thought bubble saying "what a pile of shit this is"!

DR HOOK - i remember seeing the "two guys touching each other" moment when they first showed this video back then and being rather shocked at it... of course everyone thought the guy with the eyepatch was actually dr hook, which must have annoyed mr locorriere somewhat - years later i saw him billed as "the voice of dr hook" ha ha! that reminds of the time when green out of scritti politti used to appear in publicity photos with his dreadlocked drum machine programmer. then the guy suddenly disappeared, and when asked why green replied "because everyone thought he was me!"

GLAMOURPUSS - other than pointing out that if they had released that song a couple of years later they might have been able to have cashed-in on the eponymous movie, i shall demurr and give arthur the floor as he obviously has a thing about them...

STATUS QUO - like the beatles, they were one of those bands where whoever wrote the actual song insisted on singing it too, hence rick parfitt's go on "mystery song". unfortunately though, unlike lennon and mccartney neither he or francis rossi were much cop as singers!

Adam Maunder said...

Well, I suppose I could make up for absence last week by mentioning in passing that I thought last week's was possibly the best show yet, that 'Misty Blue' was a country song written by ex-Buddy Holly collaborator Bob Montgomery, and that both Candi Staton & Kiki Dee have both just had shiny-shiny-disc releases of their earliest work (and, in both cases, that's probably their best) from Kent and RPM Records, respectively.

This week, though, seems like we were back to the usual '76 Pops porridge of the toe-curlingly awful & the historically interesting. Sunfighter probably come somewhere in-between those two poles, but then given this is the only time we're gonna see them it's probably churlish to say too much more.

I was right in my remembrance that You Are My Love was one of my mother's fave raves in that hot, hot summer - is it really still garnering downloads by the dozen on iTunes? Leaving Reggae Like it Used to Be as ever, cruelly ignored.

I really wanna know why the hell those Beatles reissues even existed in '76 - but then, yeah, I guess there was a generation who hadn't heard any of that stuff by then, so we can at least be grateful it gave us some prime Ruby Flipping, and I shall return to them in due course.

Bobby Goldsboro? Well, aside from writing & originally recording Little Things (Dave Berry did it here, of course), his career really doesn't make for enlightening listening. I'm sure everyone else'll be cracking Blackburn gags about Honey, so I shall abstain, but Simon's thoughts that we genuinely couldn't take this kinda thing anymore are probably accurate. The Story of Buck is certainly miles below the standard of, say, Clarence Carter's Patches, but then he was blind, so it always was gonna be a bit more emotive than the likes of J.J. Barrie.

I have absolutely nothing positive whatsoever to say about Dr. Hook - my father played them so regularly during my upbringing that the merest whiff of them still has me praying for a Holocaust - so let's skip onto Glamourpuss. OH BOY. Aside from hoping they appeared on Wheeltappers & Shunters, just to see Colin's & Bernard's faces, I am still speechless.

As for 'prime-time variety dying', it was one of the things that struck me most when I got Television's Greatest Hits that, for 40-odd years, there were stacks of said shows on all the channels, right up to the early 90s. London Night Out, Live from Her Majesty's, Charlie Cairoli at the Tower Ballroom - you name it, if Alyn Ainsworth was involved, it was on at some point. I can only remember it all skidding to a halt round about '92, by which time I was too young to really notice. And no, Britain's Got Talent really doesn't count.

Still, Status Quo are your ideal rock act for a variety show, even when saddled with a pretty dull song. Jimmy James, in common with Carl Douglas, Tina Charles and other such acts, was in the care of Biddu, the Indian whiz, and this one was quite a biggie, unlike I'll Go Where Your Music Takes Me. And Demis? Well, at least the clip was funny - camera swinging from left to right with nary a care.

Far more interesting than much of this were the 2 items dropped in the edit: Ruby Flipper's best routine ever ever ever, which makes me all the sadder that TOCG'll be gone in a few weeks' time - did they make much of a send-off for her? And Old Wonky Gob: curious version of the old chestnut, that - analogue synth action, and even better, Lulu schottisching away made it a good one, though.

All this, and I still haven't mentioned Noel - so puntastic this week he must've been listening to Radio 4 in-between shifts. And no reference to the weather! Missed a trick there - DLT'll doubtless be all over it like a rampant gorilla.

Oh well - back with some general abuse of Elton next week, I expect.

wilberforce said...

a couple more things about quo: noel refers to them not once but twice as "the status quo" - oh come on, how out of touch were you? they hadn't been referred by anyone else in that manner since the cod-psychedelic days of "pictures of matchstick men"! had pink floyd appeared, would he have introduced them as "the pink floyd"? maybe he was taken by ian st john's habit of referring to a certain north london football team as "the arsenal"...? oh yes, the other thing is that when the original drummer left them in the early 80's, he was quoted as saying something like "because i'm fed up with playing the same old shit night after night!"

Simon said...

Interesting that the TOTP2 Goldsboro showing (here) also refers to it as The Story Of Buck. We should be glad that convoluted Glamourpuss intro didn't affect the records.

TOCG doesn't actually leave until the end of September, and I don't think there's a sendoff - certainly checking YouTube DLT doesn't mention her.

The best Status Quo lineup change story is that just after Live Aid Rossi and Parfitt told Alan Lancaster, who the former had formed the band with at school, they were splitting, then waited for him to move to Australia and got a new bassist in.

Neil Barker said...

Maybe it's just me but I reckon "Mystery Song" was easily the highlight of this show (even on video) and one of Quo's finest moments. Would love to see their studio performance of "Rain" from earlier in the year too, from a recently recovered show.

Guilty Nick said...

On the subject of Sunfighter. Never heard of these guys until now, but totally blown away by the tune, the prodution, but not the lyrics.

Anyway, if I may be so bold as to correct the reviewer above, some internet research has revealed that:

- The blonde singer with the long hair is Jeb Milne, who still has an active musical and video production career in LA. Sounds like Lou Gramm from Foregner IMHO

- The father of Sarah Harding would appear to be the chappy on the far right.

- Rikki Peebles is the bloke with the Black acoustic guitar and the soft beard. Indeed, he represented the UK at Eurovision in 1987.

- The Bass player would appear to be Gary Taylor from Fox. Look like him, look like his bass for when Fox were on, so safe guess I think. Dunno if he was actully a member of Sunfighter.

Given that Sunfighter were a singles band with no evidence of an album, it would appear that the lineup may've varied around a core of Blondie, Beardie and Sarah Harding's long lost dad. Compare the lineup of the TOTPs clip with this clip from Supersonic:


Anonymous said...

Doesn't Demis Roussos eventually make an appearance on TOTP? Perhaps it was the Christmas edition...

Simon said...

Not with Forever And Ever, but with the follow-up When Forever Has Gone.

Steve Morgan said...

Well!After last week's edition, which I thought was the best yet, this week's was errrmmm..interesting to say the least.
Never heard of Sunfighter before, or at least don't recall hearing about them anyway, but I thought that song had all the makings of a hit, can't comment about the lyrics, I don't think the lyrics of anything from this period make any sense anyway, but the band have a contemporary look about them that should have made them fairly big. They certainly got the audience grooving there. I assume this is their one and only time on Toppo.
The Bobby Goldsboro piece was sublimely awful, thankfully that one didn't grace the charts, I had to laught though at the audience bopping around to it, the camera moves one girl out of the way, the look of horror on her face was priceless.
Quo were the definite highlight of the show, I enjoyed the Dr. Hook vid too, always did love that one, Sawyer and Loccoriere having a bit of fun there I think.
Didn't know what to make of Glamourpuss, for a second or two I thought they were in drag, I think it was those seventies style chiffon negligees they were wearing, wasn't Demis wearing one too?

Steve Morgan said...

Dear God! I've just been watching that Jonathan King clip and realised why I never liked the man, that strange sideways lip curl always made him look a bit creepy to me. I'm glad they cut that clip actually, it's a dreadful performance, and judging by Noel's introduction I don't think he liked it either.

BTW, who prepared the caption cards for the chart rundowns? Not only do we have a misspelt !Maureen McGovan" but we have "Taveres" too. You'd have thought the BBC could have afforded some simple spelling lessons.

wilberforce said...

i think the reason alan lancaster parted company with quo (and perhaps prompted his move to oz) was because he was unhappy that they were changing musical direction from good-old no-nonsense heads-down hard-driving boogie to lightweight pop piffle like "marguerita time" to try and keep up with the times... i do remember he refused to travel back to blighty to make a video, so they replaced him with some kind of puppet!

just a few things on the man who would be king: i notice he's wearing one of those t-shirts disguised as a DJ (that's dinner jacket, not disc jockey) that were the vogue at the time (particularly amongst the anti-establishment rock fraternity). another t-shirt design also sported in those days by certain non-conformist types was "hitler's european tour", with the "tour dates" on the back: poland 1939, france 1940, russia 1941 (with the word "cancelled" over it), etc - funnily enough you never see people wearing t-shirts like that nowadays... also, he's got a really weedy hobson's amd basically can't carry a tune in a bucket - he's definitely added to the ever-expanding list of contenders for "worst vocals on TOTP" along with art garfunkel, marc bolan, lee garrett and robin sarstedt!

like many i find the man odious (he really does have one of those faces that begs to be smashed in with a lumphammer!), but exorcising him from the programme (i have now taped over the late longer edition so i can't check, but i'm sure he wasn't on it) presumably because of his criminal record (that he did his time for) seems like a kangaroo court to me - what gives someone at the beeb the right to act as self-appointed censor and arbiter of public consumption? after all, as part of his punishment, did the beak who sent him down also decree that his music should henceforth not receive any airplay? i think not...

Grantynick said...

I'm sure it was probably more a case of someone at the BBC being keen to avoid being harranged by the likes of the Daily Mail for providing royalty payments to convicted sex offenders.

Look at the fuss they made when Do You Wanna Touch Me was performed on Glee.

wilberforce said...

maybe the person who captioned the chart rundown pics is the same one who does the previews for freeview schedules ("brian" ferry!)

Noax said...

Rundown - I wonder how long it'll be 'Taveres' before they get it right. They still haven't bothered with Maureen McGovern. More disturbing still in the rundown is the evils that Elton is giving Kiki.

Sunfighter - The theory about them being a late replacement for Queen is interesting as you would've expected them to be on at some point. I quite liked this song actually, and wonder if Justin Hawkins ever saw or heard this?

Doctor Hook - I really hate the song, but the sheer hairiness on display was quite amusing. I only ever really liked 'When you're in love with a beautiful woman', especially the weirdo version with the keyboard solo in the middle that one Radio 1 DJ only played. I have a feeling that it might have been Travis.

Glamourpuss - Picture the scene as the producer gets the bad news. "Oh, you're joking, first Queen pull out, now The Manhattans can't make it either?! Go down the canteen and grab anyone who can sing!" Well, that's what it sounds like.

Demis Roussos - I presume this was recorded specially for the Pops? Doesn't seem to be any audience there and he is miming. The reason DLT couldn't present this week must be due to the hair quota already reaching union limits what with this, Sunfighter and the Hook.

Jonathan King - Must've been a late decision to pull this as he was listed on the EPG. I wouldn't have a problem with it being on personally but I can see why the BBC dropped it. Their phone lines will be jammed enough with angry F1 fans now as it is.

Incidentally, I suspect I'm one of the very few who fall into the TOTP / F1 fan subset but as 1976 is the year of James Hunt's title win, do we ever get him on the show? I suspect not, as chaos would result. Legs and Co wouldn't have got out alive.

Guilty Nick said...

I agree with Noax about Justin Hawkins and Sunfighter; I can just see the Darkness covering that song.

In fact, I sent a message to Mr Hawkins on facebook the other night asking him the same question and if The Darkeness had nothing better to do, maybe they'd care to cover it. Well, I'm seeing them in Cambridge in November and I'd cream myself if they did!

Old Applejack said...

Cripes, you've got to get up early in the morning these days...

Particularly enjoyed the guy in the white sleeveless t-shirt behind Bobby Goldsboro, managing to get a surreptitious wave in, having first gone to scratch his ear.

Agree that the Beeb are saving themselves from a torrent of Daily Mail outrage and I don't blame them. We can all see the clip if we want to. Bizarre though that the Beeb could be said to be indulging in what Mail readers would decry as "Peecee gawn maaaddd". They can't win.

As someone said though, King has one of the weediest voices thus far. It's no great loss.

As ever, we delve into the realm of lookalikes, kind of. The lead singer of Glamourpuss. The one on the right at least. I think it's because she's got Sarah Brightman's gob, but she looked exceedingly familiar. Anyone? A very quick google search only suggested that one of the 'pusses was 'West End performer Stephanie Lawrence' and photographic evidence suggests she's the blonde one on the far left.

Until next time...

wilberforce said...

noax: a devotee of both vintage TOTP and Formula 1 is psssibly an even rarer breed than the lesser-spotted ornithological funkateer...?

ps - in the baffling absence of mr nibble this week (come back arthur - we miss you already!), just another observation on glamourpuss: the lady with the dark hair looks like she's had her wig squashed too hard onto her head!

Adam Maunder said...

For further evidence on 'what killed prime-time variety', cf. the repeats of 3-2-1 from its dying days that Challenge have shoved out on weekend afternoons these past few weeks. I've been enjoying those far much more than I should be, though I shall shift all blame onto Mr. Williams for his reminders via the Cream. A fair amount of pop on there - Gloria Gaynor & the Searchers a few weeks back, Georgie Fame & Madeline Bell on today's. Great fun, anyway!

Anonymous said...

Liverpool Express' frontman is Billy Kinsley, from 60s popsters and perennial beatles support band the Merseybeats (best known for Sorrow, released as the Merseys and covered by Bowie on Pinups). It was a good effort to resurrect his career with a piece of modern 10cc-esque pop, 15 years on from his Cavern days. Merseybeats had been playing the soup-in-the-basket circuit but Billy gave the mainstream another go. Good man. He's still fronting the Merseybeats...

Arthur Nibble said...

Hi folks! On holiday in the west country, deliberately trying to keep away from a computer, but just waiting to check in at a hotel, so just a quick note before the missus gets annoyed...

Loved the camera zoom during 'Bucky' and the startled look on the girl who was facially Olive from On The Buses but halfway through growing an Omnipresent frizz.

Now then, Glamourpuss! I found them on the net by mistake when trying to find the comedy record on the 1st July edition and thought it was them instead until I checked the date. Apparently five beauty queens, who released two singles (yes, they were allowed a follow-up!) on a label whose only two chart acts were Opportunity Knocks winners, which says it all really. Five women dressed in your nan's curtains, none of whom were near enough to the mic to be heard at the start of the last chorus. Does anyone know how this sounded on record? Surely the OTT orchestration and the falling-down-the-stairs ending were improvised on the back of a fag packet.

For the record, my fave was the second lead vocalist (unusual blonde hairstyle and 'look! shaved' armpits), and I'm gonna miss Cherry when she finally falls from the Flipper tree.

Bobby Morrow said...

I watched TOTP avidly during this time yet have no recollection of Sunfighter, Glamourpuss, The Surprise Sisters etc. I suppose there's little wonder! Have some old Record Mirrors from July 1976 and Sunfighter gets rather a snotty review, but is predicted to be a hit!

That said, it is these 'lost' songs that keep me intrigued. Also loved the Marmalade 'Falling Apart At The Seams' rip-off from a few weeks ago. I'd even put Mud's 'Shake It Down' in this catergory. I know it reached #12, but I honestly can't recall ever hearing it... Good song, though, isn't it?

So, bring on the flops and the forgotten souls of 1976. Abba, Elton, The Real Thing etc, all good but terribly over-familiar 35 years on even.

Look for for poor Robin Sarstedt's 'if It ain't broke..' follow-up to 'My Resistance Is Low', the deathly 'Let's Fall In Love' that has to be looming. Wonder if it will open the show?!

Arthur Nibble said...

Just one more point...the tavares dance routine may have been edited because, not for the first time in the edition, Noel dicks up an act's intro by yet another back-reference to Jonathan Bloody King. Did they share the same agent, by any chance?

Simon said...

Edited from the repeat or from the 7.30 showing? If the former they seem to have decided on a policy of one dance routine per show, but by all accounts a line where Noel mentioned Tavares had had a US hit with the song King had earlier done was excised, because it wouldn't have made sense with no It Only Takes A Minute shown.

Let's Fall In Love is coming but not as opener, as it's the song before the famous Noel-introduced clip of Can. That'll be on in mid-September 'our' time.

In further discussion of the wiped show, I saw a second hand 7" of Superspike just earlier today. Having been completely unaware of it about a fortnight ago I fear this song may now follow me everywhere.

wilberforce said...

i think this is the biggest response to a totp blog so far - hurrah! (even if a lot of it has been my own contributions ha ha!)

also hurrah to all the nobodies on the show that help make this all such fun... the sunfighters, the glamourpusses, the surprise sisters-ers (erm... is that right?) and all their fellow brethren who had henceforth vanished into the mists of time... until now!

like bobby, i don't remember these non-entities despite also being a regular viewer of the show at the time (and strangely enough also the mud hit despite their track record - as i said before, maybe i chose to expunge it from my memory thanks to "rocket" and "lonely this christmas" ha ha)

of course the real reason all the no-namers got a chance on the show was because the superstars either couldn't be bothered, or had bigger fish to fry (for instance macca was in the middle of one of the biggest-grossing tours of the states at that point)... but a big cheer to the producers who wouldn't be held to ransom and just show some video the likes of rod and queen had knocked up whilst making their millions elsewhere! (btw, i have this vision of dave the drummer from mud sitting at home and watching what passed for daytime tv in those days, waiting for the show's producer to phone him and say "you're on again this week"...)

Bobby Morrow said...

I don't think Mud were on TOTP with 'Tiger Feet' as much as they were with 'Shake It Down'!

Like I said, I watched the show utterly without fail so can only conclude that such acts as The Surprise Sisters ('Prisoner Cell Block H' set to music!) and the stunning Sunfighter were treated with complete contempt by my young self and then promptly forgotten about (almost) forever.

I remember hating Pan's People/ The Flipper and Legs & Co with a passion as when they were on doing their dismal dances, it meant that the proper group/artist couldn't be arsed to turn up!

35 years later, of course, I'm a little more forgiving and the highlights for me have been the records that didn't chart too well.

I can only dream of what treasures are to come. 1976 has been given stick for being a dreadful year in music but give me this year anyday over 1977 (Punk and New Wave rearing their ugly heads) and 1978, which I seem to remember the charts being comprised mainly of songs from 'Grease' and Boney M.

Still, I daresy there'll be untold treasures in those years too. I just don't remember 'em!

Bobby Morrow said...

I forgot to mention that even I couldn't find any merit in that hideous Bobby Goldsboro thing from last week... I'm amazed he managed to keep a straight face whilst singing it. That said, it is a song one could conjure up some wonderful 'alternate' lyrics too...

Noax said...

Simon - the Tavares routine definitely was on the late night version and there was a reference to 'It only takes a minute' but not to Jonathan King. Therefore I can only assume that someone did a very clever edit!

Bobby Morrow - I am looking forward to 77 and 78 as that's when I started showing more interest in pop. When I hit 7 years old in 1979 I regularly started listening to the chart so I'm really looking forward to that year. Watching Legs & Co dancing to Lene Lovich's 'Say When' on a TOTP2 repeat (on Dave, natch) this weekend has whetted the appetite.

Bobby Morrow said...

Noax- Surely Punk/New Wave and Legs & Co is an accident waiting to happen. Even though I whinged about 77 and 78, you can bet I'll be glued regardless. After all, who knew there were so many great records in 1976!

wilberforce said...

bobby's comments have prompted another thought: did any artists actually object to the idea of pan's people or their successors dancing to their song in their absence? did they even know that was going to happen?

maybe the producer used that as leverage: "if you don't turn up this week, your song will be subjected to a hastily-contrived dance routine performed by people who aren't always entirely sure what they are doing... oh, and it may also be likely they will be doing it in silly costumes"

Anonymous said...

The Clash must have been humiliated the most by Legs & Co then... :D

Old Applejack said...

Whoa, fellers, do we know these repeats are going on beyond 1976? Don't get me wrong, I'd love this to be a fixture for the next ten years or so, but I'm not holding out a lot of hope for 1977...

And Noax, thanks for that reminder of Legs and Co doing Say When. I saw that on TOTP2 about eight odd years ago, and it instantly became one of my favourite routines. Rosie's smile deserves a place in a gallery somewhere...

Simon said...

Unreliable word is no decision has been made but if the ratings are good enough BBC4 will certainly look at continuing into 1977. There's only four wiped shows from that year.

While everyone's here, it's another week off next week which usually means a set of five Alternative Canons. Anyone want to suggest a theme following July's novelty songs week? Or indeed any clips? (Alternative Canon, for the uninitiated, is entertaining or memorable performances that aren't as famous as they should be in the show's annals)

Noax said...

How about 'Acts that still had hits in the early 90s but weren't as popular as they used to be'?

Erm, you might have to work on the title, but I was thinking of the likes of :

'Do you love me like you say?' - Terence Trent D'Arby

'The violence of summer' - Duran Duran

'Love is holy' - Kim Wilde

'Am I the same girl?' - Swing out Sister

'Stand above me' - OMD

OK, it's a bit rubbish and is mainly an excuse to see some Pops from the Dortie era. Laters.

wilberforce said...

re: alternative canon - how about early 80's equivalents of sunfighter or glamourpuss? (i suspect that TOTP had stopped giving exposure to such unknown wannabes by then - a shame if so...)

like old applejack i'd love to carry on watching these old TOTP's in an alternate universe for the next decade (before the likes of stock aitken and waterman started killing pop music ha ha!), but it wouldn't surprise me if the beeb pulled the plug even before the year's out, never mind at the end... perhaps people like simon and steve of tv cream should use their media connections to put some pressure on them to continue with it...?

ps - what's the "dortie" era?

Simon said...

Media connections? Really?

The Dortie Era would be 1991-93, when new producer Stanley Appel, who was nearly 60, brought in a set of changes including making acts sing live, broadening the age range of performers for an older audience and bringing in a specific set of presenters (Tony Dortie, Mark Franklin, Claudia Simon, Adrian Rose, Femi Oke) who were largely rubbish.

FishyFish said...

I was literally weeping tears of hilarity when the Ruby Slipper interpretation of Heaven Must be Missing an Angel was shown. What started out as halos had seemingly metamorphosed into a set of dangerous looking lassos by the end of the performance, the wire and tinsel constructs whipping dangerously between head height and the dancer's lower backs. I half expected one of the devils to become ensnared!