Friday, 1 July 2011

TOTP 17/6/76 (tx 30/6/11): Boogie down production

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 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.


wilberforce said...

i keep thinking: the next time TOTP's on there won't be anything worth commenting on. however i'm glad (if no-one else is) to say that's not the case just yet...

T-REX - i didn't realise quite how weak marc bolan's voice was - sorry dude, but you're up there with robin sarstedt and lee garrett in the "can't carry a tune in a bucket" stakes on TOTP... further proof if needed ("emperor's new clothes" alert) that despite the assertations of rock historians and other deluded types bolan was a minor talent at best, and his short-lived success was commensurate with his limited ability. i remember about 20 years ago i was listening to a quiz on the radio and they played a "bits & pieces" style montage of t-rex hits - it all sounded like the same song to me! then just to rub it in they did a similar thing with david bowie, where (unlike bolan) his dazzling array of diversity was obvious (of course as one whose ego far outweighed his talent, bolan rather laughably considered his peer to be a creative equal)... btw, when EMI tried to cash in on disco with their "don't walk - boogie" compilation in 1978, despite their enormity they were so bereft of actual disco music on their roster that they included this plodding pub-rock 12-bar just because it had the word "boogie" in it!

GALLAGHER & LYLE (or should that be gallagher and lovejoy - graham lyle is one of the best lookalikes to appear so far ha ha) - simon recently posted a blog on the loneliness of the solo-on-stage singer, but on the other hand having a surfeit of inessential bods around can be equally embarrassing. t-rex make a good attempt with their lank-haired balding and beardy air-keyboardist, but this week's winners in the "spare prick at a wedding" stakes are g&l's odd-couple backing singers - surely they are just mates along for the crack? the short one is so busy laughing and joking with his partner he actually forgets to do what he's there for i.e. mime on the chorus!

MURRAY HEAD - first a comment on the music: what a shambles! they can't decide whether to cover this 40's number in its original manner or give it a 70's rock makeover, with the result it falls very badly between those two particular stools... also note the cap-sleeved trumpeter trying to dance at the beginning - he looks like a drunk lurching about in the boozer having had one too many ("did you spill my pint!")

LIVERPOOL EXPRESS - this is one of those songs i quite liked (apart from the twee beatles rip-off bit in the middle) yet never got around to owning a recording of. check out the already-out-of-date feathercuts and look of the band on the front cover of their debut album for another reason "why punk had to happen" (does anyone own copyright on that phrase?)... they later shortened their name to LEX in a desperate and doomed attempt to prolong their lifespan - not usually a good career move i.e. curiosity killed the cat/curiosity...

oh yes, for those who watched the full version: linda & the funky boys are just not very funky, are they?

Adam Maunder said...

You know, whenever I deign to come on here & sprinkle a few facts into the comment stew, I begin to feel like Mike Read. Not a pleasant sensation, as I'm sure you'll appreciate; all I need to do now is call for the banning of LMFAO, & I'll be set!

Nonetheless, there was plenty worthy of a natter this week, starting with:

Mr. Bolan: Now this is a good example of T-Rex Theft Syndrome. Namely: if stuck for an idea, rip off another song. He'd plundered Howlin' Wolf's 'You'll be Mine' for 'Jeepster', and for this one he set his sights on the then-recently anthologised (on MCA's classic Rare Rockabilly series) 1956 country hit, 'Teenage Boogie' by Webb Pierce, the latter itself a reworking of a song he'd first recorded 5 years earlier. It all ended up in court; according to, "The outcome was that the riff had been in circulation so long that it was deemed to be in public domain!" Both 56 & 76 mixes are easily locatable on YT, though, so do check 'em out.

Gallagher & Lyle still sound like a fart in a bath to me, but does anyone else think they bear both an aural & visual resemblance to the Beach Boys when they were awful (great chunks of their 70s & 80s work, if I were being specific)? Mind you, this song did give rise to one of the cheesiest (if still funny) gags cracked by Kenny Everett on one of his TV shows - anyone remember it?

Frampton Comes Alive! seems to have found its natural home in every charity shop I've ever visited (& that's a lot). It's the sort of breezy, easygoing wank the Americans seemed to go big on in those days, isn't it (viz. the Bellamys, Doobies et al)? 'Electronic jews' harp' is about the closest stab I can come up with for the tune's USP. And to be fair to Frampton, he was bloody amusing on The Simpsons, which isn't true of everybody.

Ah, Brotherhood of Man. My admiration for their sheer unfettered nonsense has increased these past few weeks; now I see their followup was essentially EXACTLY THE SAME SONG, even down to the twist ending? Biggest laugh of the week.

Murray Head: star of Jesus Christ Superstar, of course, but 'Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat' deserves a mensh because of its high degree of penmanship. The Rene brothers, Leon & Otis, were 2 of the very few blacks to make a mark on the overwhelmingly white, Jewish milieu that was the Tin Pan Alley of 70-odd years ago. And they really did add a few notches to what Denis Norden correctly called "the public stock of harmless pleasure": 'When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano', 'When it's Sleepy Time Down South', 'I Sold My Heart to the Junkman' (which became Patti LaBelle's first record in 1962) - yup, they more than earned their Chappell stripes. This song holds a special place in my affections, though, largely because of Bugs Bunny/Mel Blanc's rendition of it in Gorilla My Dreams (probably also on YT).

Now onto Ruby Flipper, and Simon's already gotten the jump on my main thought, namely that Flick was channeling the 'THOMAS! THOMAS? WHERE IS THAT CAT?!' school of choreography this week. Great fun, though, if nowhere near the standard of that gorgeous take on Maureen McGovern's version of 'The Continental' last week. Loved that!

Speaking of Maureens, my mum (for that be her name) must've been loving it this week: Heart on My Sleeve, Tonight's the Night and... Liverpool Express, all of which were in her 21-year-old record box, if memory serves. Can't say I thought much of You Are My Love, but I think Simon was right that it appealed to the 10cc fans (yes, my mother again).

Yeah, really rather enjoyed it all, as it goes. See you in... ooh, a fortnight's time? ... Nah, I'll be back before then - I really have NO life. See ya.

seekenee said...

 Throughout this fascinating rerun i've been thinking about what age some of the people we've seen so far were in the summer of 76, so I made a few clicks:

Hank Mizell 52
Jimmy savile 49
Frankie Valli 42
Alex Harvey 41
David Hamilton 38
Jimmy James 35
Cliff Richard 35
Barry Manilow 33
Mick Jagger 33
JJ Barrie 33
Andrea True 33
Tony Blackburn 33
Noosha Fox 31
Davenport Lee travis 31
Les Gray 30
Flick Colby 30
Paul Nicholas 30
Eric Carmen 27
Noel Edmunds 27
Phil Lynott 27
Agnetha Faltskog 26
Linda Lewis 25
Tina Charles 22
Midge Ure 22
Les McKeown 20

Anonymous said...

Re I Love to Boogie.PLastic Bertrand repeated the rip off trick with "Ca Plane Pour Moi" in 1978

What's telling about Bolan & Bowie was that Marc was a TOTP whore, appearing even when his career was on the skids. DB in contrast appeared in person just twice in the 70s (1972 "Starman" and 1977 "Heroes")

Arthur Nibble said...

I’ll try and collate my comments in one email this time, rather than three or four (can’t promise, but the intention’s there).

I dread it when DLT presents TotP, what with his cameo appearances in artists’ slots (the show’s about them, Dave, not you), completely unfunny attempts at humour and his rubbish tips for the top - he shares this final affliction with old Tone. The only DJ who’s got a prediction correct so far is Noel, when he was sadly right about JJ Barrie. Apart from his vocal affectations, it seems Noel was the most clued-up DJ presenting the show back then.

In the chart rundown, Maureen McGovern’s mis-spelt surname must have been Letrasetted by someone from near the Glasgow shipyards. Another cock-up soon after when DLT introduces Gallagher and Lyle saying they’re at number 7, which is Dolly Parton’s position. They’re at six, Dave. Useless.

Brotherhood of Man – early in the lyrics, Martin sings “someone kissed me”. Someone, not something. Trade Descriptions Act! Martin always gives Pete Budd a good game (good game) in the winking stakes, and he gains extra points this week for turning his jacket to full volume.

Keeping the fashion theme, good to see Mud in those green trousers again, and what sort of tie could Les wear with a collar like that? Ray’s still doing the ‘let’s decapitate Les with my bass’ routine three years after they used it when promoting “Dyna Mite”. I hope BBC4 use the new ‘three plays is okay’ rule to give us Archie Bell and the Drells next time, though the lads have technically had three plays on the edits already, seeing as they were used for the playout track two weeks before they made number 30.

Finally, interesting to see there was still a vibrant Liverpool effect in the charts at the time - The Real Thing, Our Kid, Liverpool Express. I take it most record company A&R men were Scousers in ‘76?

Noax said...

Not much love for Linda and the Funky Boys here I see - I have to say that I'd never heard that song before and really liked it! The routine was pretty poor though.

Speaking of the Flipper, little did I realise when commenting on Floyd drawing the short straw costume wise a few weeks back, just how bad it would get! At least the routine was a bit of fun - amazing the Hairy Cornflake didn't join in really.

I always thought when people moaned about the 90s Eurodance acts releasing essentially the same song over and over again that it wasn't exactly a new trick, and it was nice to see Brotherhood of Man proving the point.

That Murray Head song was truly awful, almost like something from Monty Python (they were gumbies in the background weren't they?) and made Robin Sarstedt look like Elvis.

I really enjoy the weekly banter on here, and as I couldn't give two hoots about Twitter - unlike most people now it seems, my life doesn't revolve around mobile phones - so long may it continue!

wilberforce said...

interesting to see that so many of the performers on these old TOTP's were at least 30 - another reason "why punk had to happen" ha ha...

brotherhood of man weren't the first to follow up a big hit with a virtual copycat sequel expecting nore of the same only to see it go tits up... brian poole and the tremeloes got their knuckles rapped when they followed up their chart-topping "do you love me" in 1963 with "i can dance" (a total clone even down to the spoken intro), that reached the mighty chart position of no. 31... in our household we call this "doing a brian poole"!

btw simon you are too modest - your site for covering old TOTP's is definitely the best, and (i concur with noax) aeons better than that vacuous twitter rubbish!

to quote the british athletics coach charles van commenee on one of his athetes controversially tweeting: "twitter is for attention-seekers and clowns"! as far as i'm concerned the plebs can "tweet" to each other all they like as i'll never read any of their drivel anyway, but please please PLEASE don't desecrate simon's site with your airhead pollution! (and just who the hell are gideon coe and pete pathides anyway?)

Simon said...

Actually, maybe I'll do the appeal for followers another week.

Arthur Nibble said...

Gideon Coe works for BBC Radio London - particularly irksome for me, as I've extolled the virtues of this site to a mate of mine who's a reporter at the same station. There will be words! Forget the Twatters, I'm afraid for the rest of you that my flag's firmly in this soil and I'm staying right here.

While I'm at it, another example of 'doing a Brian Poole' that comes to mind is Gary Puckett and the Union Gap who, if I remember correctly, followed up "Young Girl" with "Young Girl", "Lady Willpower".

wilberforce said...

purely by coincidence i went to a car boot this morning and came across a copy of "gary puckett's greatest hits" LP that featured "young girl" (that was somewhat curiously re-released and charted again in the 70's despite being archetypal 60's fare), plus "lady willpower" (that actually got to number 5 in the charts therefore technically not actually "doing a brian poole" by bombing ha ha), "woman woman" (another soundalike that qualifies on the basis of reaching the lowly chart position of 48) and several other non-hits... however i wasn't prepared to part with 50p to find out if the rest of the tracks were also "young girl" clones ha ha!

Steve Williams said...

This episode was demented, the most bizarre we've seen so far, unsurprising given Travis was in charge. In the extended version he was even worse, running through all his repertoire - Irish accent into Thin Lizzy, Southern drawl into Dolly Parton, all that. Calm down.

Gallagher and Lyle and Murray Head seemed to be competing to see who had the most ill-at-ease backing singers. I liked the start of Murray Head, with that terrible crash edit to Travis, clearly filmed long after his Mud cameo, then a jump cut to Head hesitantly stumming his guitar, as if he'd been dragged on at the very last minute to replace a proper pop star.

Presumably had My Sweet Rosalie been a hit, the next Brotherhood of Man single would have been the same again only about a favourite armchair or a good cigar or something.

I liked the sweeping shot from T Rex, via Travis, to Gallagher and Lyle, that looked quite slick.

Simon said...

That was the other thing I meant to mention, the continuity error with Mud climaxing with DLT still hanging around at the back of the stage, then a cut straight to him directly addressing camera.

We don't hear again from Brotherhood Of Man until 1977, with a song described on Wiki as "female-led and much more in a contemporary pop style", which of course leads into that June's number one Fernandalike Angelo. We do get Mud again, though, even though the contents of the wiped shows towards the end of '76 include all three performances of the follow-up, a cover of Lean On Me which switches from disco to something more like Gallagher & Lyle.

Arthur Nibble (again) said...

So the BBC have wiped all TOTP evidence of Mud's next and final hit. Unless the immediate follow up to Shake It Down, a flop called A Nite On The Tiles, was given a slot, we've seen the last of Les and the boys. Brilliant work.

Simon said...

In fact the *next* single to Lean On Me, Slow Talkin' Boy, was shown in May 1977, but like the rest of their career it failed to chart.

Wellieman said...

Can't agree with some of the comments above. Sure Marc and T.Rex were well washed up by this stage, but their run of singles from Ride A White Swan to 20th Century Boy were magnificent.

Mud were bloody excellent too for the most part of their chart career. I actually love Lean On Me, gutted it won't be shown come Xmas... the long fade out with jingle bells and the works is one of my Christmas highlights.

We should be glad that My Sweet Rosalie wasn't a big hit as it forced them to change tack and put the girls up front thereafter. Looking forward to Oh Boy (The Mood I'm In) next year if we get that far.

Generally agree that these episodes are so bad (musically, visually and performance-wise) that they make compelling viewing. Some of the Ruby Flipper routines are so cringe-inducing you have to watch them through your fingertips.

Bring on next week's...

Joanne Bevan said...

I would like to make a few comments about my all-time favourite band, Gallagher and Lyle.

Wilberforce: it's Benny Gallagher (on the accordion) who resembles Ian "Lovejoy" McShane; Graham Lyle (guitar/vocals) more closely resembles West End lyricist and broadcaster Richard Stilgoe.

Adam Maunder: how dare you compare Gallagher and Lyle to a fart in the bath!

Simon: you're right about Mud's "Lean On Me"; towards the end, it sounds rather like "If I Needed Someone" from Gallagher and Lyle's most successful album, "Breakaway".