The big news of the week on this particular corner of the TOTPsphere is a repeat-specific Twitter account - not me, but unofficial and with the mission statement "Who wishes Top Of The Pops 1976 had pop-up captions like TOTP2? (Puts hand up) Well, we're gonna fix that via the magic of Twitter!" Actually, no, the good thing about this run is it doesn't feature captions that are either bone-dry or too postmodern for anyone's good. Luckily, this is neither. Unfortunately, it has far more readers and, thanks to tweets from the likes of Gideon Coe and Pete Paphides, far more awareness than this blog has ever managed. And while I'm championing the competition, another recap blog has popped up.
Did you see that interview in which Aung San Suu Kyi criticised the way the BBC World Service has been marginalised and turned into a rolling news and current affairs network, dropping the vast majority of the entertainment and interest programming that provided succour to her during her years of captivity and in doing so running down its core services? No, you didn't, as BBC Enterprises span it into a "DLT LOL" story. Suu Kyi clearly has no concept of snooker on the radio but merely grabbed onto something where "the listeners would write in and I had a chance to hear other people's words. It made my world much more complete". And it might not have been his show after all, although that Suu Kyi partly remembered Travis' name in the interview and specified the music requests element (and that the letter is from the producer of the other show) suggests otherwise.
DLT, anyway, reading the name off a medallion - a medallion - around his neck, with unhilarious consequences. Notable point in the chart rundown is the reappearance in The Wanderer's wake of Leader Of The Pack at 21, illustrated not with a Shangri-Las shot but with a stock photo of a moped. Not a particularly raucous machine either.
T Rex – I Love To Boogie
Fronted by the man the EPG called Marc Bowland - though it was the name he used when first recording, so maybe they were onto something. T Rex were doing better critically than commercially at the time and Bolan wasn't in the best of health, positively anaemic in appearance with shorter hair and no great commitment to the vocal delivery cause. Sounds slightly Dylanish in his vowels, actually, plus the odd sheep noise. He's got the rest of the look nearly down pat, though, a wide tie with no shirt over a luxurious velvet jacket and widening face augmented with cyan eyeshadow. It's just the energy was being saved up so Billy Elliot could expel it.
Gallagher & Lyle – Heart On My Sleeve
On the other hand, a look that always ages. Not the beard, the cloth cap, and doubly the swept back mullet and accordion. It's the latter's deathly bellows that puts the colour in a slip of a slow song's cheeks but also means it can never attain whatever emotional touch it was going for, not with that always going on in the background. Gallagher and Lyle clearly believe in filling a stage, though, as while the drummer seems to be in an adjoining postal district the bassist has to share a backing vocal mike with two blokes of indeterminate use, one in polo shirt and floppy hat, looking for all the world like they work in lighting and got called in to stop the wide shots looking so barren. The audience are up for it this week, though, swaying like it means something to them. Two are prominently wearing gypsy bonnets.
Peter Frampton – Show Me The Way
"Some amazing, amazing things done with a tube in the mouth and all sorts of goodies" DLT promises of the video clip as seen on the full version a couple of weeks ago without ever specifying what those goodies might be once the appeal of a talkbox has palled. Maybe he means the massive red lighting sign above the band spelling out 'FRAMPTON'. What a manly 70s man Frampton really was, with his aftershave commercial open shirt and glorious mane.
Brotherhood Of Man – My Sweet Rosalie
First band to have two songs on the TOTP repeat run, if I'm not mistaken. Having apparently topped "all the charts around the world" they have a new single which DLT thinks will "go right to number one". (SPOILER: it didn't. It went right to number thirty. This, though, was not the last we'd hear of the band, not by a long chalk, but we'll cross that flagrantly Fernando-shaped bridge when we come to it) It's probably fair to say that having lightning strike twice was foremost on the minds of songwriters of both songs Tony Hiller, Lee Sheriden and Martin Lee, though. It starts with a xylophone melody followed by a Martin Lee solo spot while everyone else takes part in synchronised light movement. Then there's some collective arm swinging on the chorus as Lee seems to be telling us in the light variety harmony style about his undying love for... hang on, we've been here before, haven't we? And so on the last line the music winds down, one of the girls makes "me?" signs at Lee's shoulder and "she's the only one for me, the cutest little puppy dog you'll see..." Bloody hell. Brotherhood Of Man - the M Night Shyamalan of 70s lounge pop and with a similarly wayward quality detector. It's not even a cute dog. Though how they got the dog on stage, given the other two had it in their arms for the climactic pose immediately and surely the music and movement would have scared it away were it untethered on stage, let alone risk being spotted by the camera and the end ruined, remains a mystery.
Mud – Shake It Down
"Mud stands for Maniacs Under Demolition..." Hang on, what's this? The admittedly piss-in-the-wind two plays unless you're number one rule for the edited version has been broken! Admittedly there's much less worthy songs it could have been done for than Disco Mud - and it wasn't falling as everyone seems to think, it was heading down but then rebounded to 12 for no good reason before resuming its stately progress out - but we lost a Ruby Flipper routine for this. And then to compound matters the second verse is completely edited out, meaning we lose a bit of fresh comedy business involving bassist Ray Stiles (see the whole thing here - the green trousers are back, then). Then the reason why we've got it again becomes clearer as DLT lumbers onto the stage, only Stiles dealing him a brief glance, and heads behind the drumkit. Once there, while Dave Mount makes excellent confused faces, he finds he can't think of anything to do. Join in? Sway? Pretend strangulation with his mike cord? It's a dilemma. Oh, Les has taken his shades off. He means business. So does the director, if business is good in giving the unwary photo-sensitive epilepsy. Don't mind telling you, I'm going to miss this song. Were it up to me I'd launch a BBC supportive campaign to get it up the charts on downloads. Les Gray certainly missed it as he re-recorded it with his solo band, and it's on Spotify and various download sites (some of which credit it as a 2010 release but in fact it came out in 2002, Gray being detained by rigor mortis well before last year)
Murray Head – Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat
Earnest man, Grand Old Opry shirt, song that's delivered in the style of the Inkspots, largely because it's a cover of one of their songs and Head clearly has no better ideas about arrangement, essentially dreaming of being Robin Sarstedt. He does rescue it with the single most awkward looking backing band of all, ageing jazz men mixing with a Bob Carolgees-a-gram on over-florid double bass playing. Eventually Head puts his guitar down and goes for the jazz standard extemporising while a man with 'GET UP AND BOOGIE' on the back of his cardigan is being a traitor to himself. By close he's threatening the audience with a large pot plant. That's one way to make an impression if all seems lost.
Candi Staton – Young Hearts Run Free
Oh, he's got Ruby Flipper's name right at last. This is a right dog's dinner even by Flipper standards.
Yeah, maybe they were right when they said it should never be done on TOTP. Cherry on lead again, you'll notice, taking the lead in interspersed clips of her and the Paul Nicholasalike as the titular young hearts, but clearly BBC4 are going all out to annoy the PC BRIGADE message board, um, brigade. Floyd Pearce actually finds a role more off-beam than the TVC15 jockey, seemingly dressed as the housekeeper from Tom & Jerry. He doesn't lift up his pinny to reveal multicoloured stockings at any stage, but maybe that's being saved for the routine for the 12" mix. He's giving the literal interpretation a good going over, though, as are two of the girls in bonnets ("you'll get the babies but you won't have your man") and the third bloke in flat cap and blacked out teeth ogling a clearly visible Page Three ("while he is busy loving every woman that he can"). And yes, Floyd "just can't break away" when his ankle is grabbed. It's a story of many layers, this, the dream (of a completely different looking woman) to return to the days of youth when nothing else mattered. Cleverer than it looks after all, and they got six of the seven in for once. TWEET OF THE WEEK: "i want ruby flipper on.totp 1976 to.do a similar dance routine to a lady gaga song!" That'd be prescient of the show.
Liverpool Express – You Are My Love
"We have some nurses from Great Ormond Street here". Yes, Dave, they were the people in nurses' uniforms grabbing onto your elbows in the last link and you forgot to specifically mention them then, didn't you? This one "could well be a monster hit sound" - closer this time, it reached number eleven. That might be because the image of the performance was burned onto the retinas of a generation of viewers, the VT editor having been granted a solarisation effect and been overkeen to use his new toy. More of an impression than the record, which sounds like someone not quite understanding 10cc.
The Wurzels - Combine Harvester
Of course DLT introduces it in a pirate voice, with the suggestion we "get out to the garden sheds, get hold of the tools, throw them around". He does know what the country is, doesn't he? Doesn't he? It's the first performance again, if you're keeping notes, Pete Budd giving it so much suggestiveness to camera he felt moved to comment on it. Yeah, the Wurzels are on Twitter. I think I may have stumbled across social media's black swan event. Say what you like about the logic around these lyrics, but at least a combine harvester and its key have more in common than a key and some rollerskates. He's still not properly playing that sousaphone. DLT does a poor Tommy Cooper impression that's more growling than catchphrases apropos of nothing, visibly delighting the girl next to him for quite some time, before Rod Stewart's Tonight’s The Night plays us out.
EDIT NEWS: the Dolly and Lizzy videos again plus a Ruby Flipper routine to Sold My Rock ‘N’ Roll by the unrepossessingly named Linda & The Funky Boys that looks like this. Basically, many and varied ways of going round in a circle.