Thursday, 14 July 2011

TOTP 24/6/76 (tx 14/7/11): fuck Art, let's dance

Firstly, because people are starting to question this and I had an email about it since we all last met up (hello David), the issue of missing weeks. Despite what was made known at the start of the run there are eight shows missing believed wiped from the year, especially in its last couple of months. In fact I think 1976 has been chosen because it's the first year they've got a good set of unbroken runs of retained shows for. As it stands they're showing The Sky At Night once a month in that slot, which works because... well, because it's a well known monthly programme, but for our purposes it actually works out that missing out a week a month means hitting the last pre-Christmas show of 1976 on the Thursday before Christmas 2011. There's no official confirmation of all that but it works out so well it's the most likely explanation. The first lost programme is in fact next week, which is annoying if only because it contains a failed comedy single that sounds fantastic, and we will be covering that absence.

Oh yeah, and for at least the next couple of weeks the live Proms coverage shoves TOTP back onto Wednesday. As for this week we're back in the 1970s one-liner and dubious hairline realm of Diddy David Hamilton, sporting huge badges on *both* lapels, one reading 'I'm In The Mood For Love', the other as far as I can tell 'It's No More'. "I'd like you to meet my fan club" he begins. I don't need to fill in the details, apart from how he ends by doing a pointless but flirtatious fall back aided by a Nicola Roberts lookalike, right down to the complexion and nervous half-smile. Her, not him. Though it could easily apply to him, actually.

Pilot - Canada
First things first, this is the fifth time in six weeks the show has started with a record that failed to make the top 50 at all. Not only that, but this is a run that will become eight in nine weeks. What's causing this? You have the marketing opportunity of the prime position in the country's top music show and it turns out to be a poisoned chalice? In further contemporary news, the director has brought in a wobbly fade. It doesn't achieve much other than a showy way of getting from one shot to another but it's more interesting than the band, who weren't going to chart again now the days of Magic and January were gone. No wonder, given this is a song maybe trying to hitch a ride on the Typically Tropical-esque ticket of marvelling at things across the Atlantic but choosing to deliver them in the medium of plodding AM rock, which doesn't wash when the best specific toothy Paul Whitehouse lookalike singer Billy Lyall can come up with is their "snow peaked mountains tumbling down, you had them from birth". There's some guitar solo duelling with Ian Bairnson cheating by using a twelve-string, even though he only seems to use half of it. The bassist has an open shirt, maybe attempting to cement a status as Pilot's looker.

Bryan Ferry - Let's Stick Together
"What more appropriate? In this weather we can't do anything else" chortles Diddy, our first reference to the long hot summer of '76. You've seen this video already. Spiv tache, Jerry, all that, though it must be stated for permanent record that a red spotted tie does not complement a suave look when worn over a suit jacket. Diddy claims everyone's wearing white suits as "we're all doubling as ice cream salesmen". Having already begun the link by extending a hand towards an imagined stage, it seems he's trying to convince us that Ferry was there all along.

Mistura - The Flasher
Ruby Flipper time, and anyone making reference to how it should have been a literal performance can get out now. In fact it's as opaque a raiding of the dressing up box as any TOTP dance troupe ever got, and they get to do it in the round too. So that's the girls in tiara and evening wear (long gloves inclusive), already retro white polka dotted skirt and flower garland taped to chest and hula skirt (Cherry, inevitably, and for the vidcappers' record it should be stated it stays in place when she's turned upside down) and the boys in cossack wear, flying suit and full tiger catsuit with appropriately painted face (Floyd, inevitably - was he just slow to rehearsals every week? If he were a footballer he'd be spending years only driving a yellow Robin Reliant). And, well, they get into a circle and perform one by one in the middle. Occasionally some expressive lifting occurs, ending with the girls on the boys' shoulders in an ever decreasing circle. At other times they all come in together in formation and do a move. It's Wigan Casino meets speciality suit hire £15 a night.

Demis Roussous - Forever And Ever

"It's been quite a long time since we had an EP in the charts" says Diddy enticingly. We get a live in concert clip featuring a particularly glistening kaftan and the biggest mike head you've seen. In the original stage version it was José Feliciano's version of Light My Fire and it was changed for copyright reasons, you know.

The New Seekers – It’s So Nice (To Have You Home)
"A lot of people were very sad when the New Seekers split up and no doubt they'll be glad to know that they're back together now." Really? Well, it's possible, but then so is that fans will spot that two members have changed. Very much an air of ITV LE, all forced jollity and smiley handclap and sideways movement from the two female singers as if Abba had never happened with a comparatively brave brief middle eight attempt at falsetto harmony. They seem to have an extra acoustic guitarist where the drummer usually sits. This didn't reach the top 40, by the way, and co-founder Paul Layton later said "I think that with hindsight we identified less with that song than the others". Given it features a new member proclaiming "it's so nice to have you home again and you're looking just exactly as you looked before" I can understand that.

Osibisa – Dance The Body Music
Ooh, Noel's turned up for this one, he's there in the back of shot...oh, wait, this is a repeat of the performance from his most recent show and the producer didn't spot him. That cheap champers won't drink itself.

Art Garfunkel – I Believe When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever
Having been given something the shape and about the size of a wedding cake base to perform from, Art's a bit stuck for things to do as he overemotes a Stevie Wonder song that threatens to carry on for as long as John Miles' Music. With thumbs in pockets he chooses to stand stock still. At least one girl in the audience is prominently doing likewise. In fact, the big wobble just before the final panning out camera shot might well be its operator falling asleep on the job. No, this didn't chart either. Sackable work by the editors at the end as an audience almost entirely in shot sway noncommittally yet are clapping on the soundtrack.

The Real Thing – You To Me Are Everything
This week's mix and match of outfits is less pronounced, though it does seem to incorporate a crimson butcher's apron and matching trousers. Or maybe they're stylised dungarees. Eddie meanwhile rocks a choker and satin suit, the latter in the future style of Lenny Henry's Theophilus P Wildebeeste. Are the other three meant to be clapping in unison? They appear to be not so solid about whether they should be a backing singing trio in unison - no rhythm guitar this week - or just some mates mucking in. Again we hear applause but don't see it, but one of the girls flocking to Diddy's side for the last link is dancing along nevertheless. Maybe she got confused. Another of his companions seems to be an exact cross between Kathy Burke and Rebecca Front. They get to hear Diddy's introduction to the Beach Boys record that was this week's pointless reissue first hand - "if you want to get good vibrations for yourself try sitting on the washing machine after the show, it works wonders for you". Burke/Front grins. The dancing girl is too preoccupied with the middle distance to take it in.

EDIT NEWS: All studio work - the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (back in the studio very, very soon) and the monologuing Lee Garrett repeated, Cherry alone (see what we mean?) doing Dorothy Moore's Misty Blue (One For The Dads archive and, losing out to the vagaries of how easily the edit can be made, Johnny Nash, again in the studio, covering (What A) Wonderful World.


Steve Williams said...

The camerman was going mental in the playout this week, zooming in at ferocious speed, and during Pamela Lambooy's credit there was a great full length close-up of one of the crew.

I love that New Seekers song, the wimpiest record ever made. It reminded me of Smashie and Nicey doing the top ten and introducing Cliff Richard with God Is Nice (And So Are Little Children). I also see that Diddy pronounced Osibisa in a different way to Noel, Osi-bee-sa rather than O-see-bisa.

I liked Diddy's reference to the heat, but some of the participants were wearing highly inappropriate outfits, him off Ruby Flipper in the flying suit, Johnny Nash in a full formal suit and tie and Dave from The Real Thing in dungarees and a jumper. They must have been boiling!

wilbeforce said...

i watched this week's edited transmission "live", and for some reason my video failed to record the full version later on, so i haven't been able to study in more detail before passing comment as i normally do, therefore i hope my memory's not failing me...

even though long hair was getting ever-more unfashionable by the day in 1976, it is noticeable that the less-hip bands (pilot/smokie/liverpool express et al) still persisted with that look, even when certain members were obviously not hirute enough to be suited for it (the sutherland brothers' singer and drummer, and now the guy with the double-necked guitar in pilot - was he "coiffed" by diddy's stylist?)... meanwhile the style icons such as ferry, bolan, and chris spedding are making obvious efforts to depart from the shaggy look - even roxy music's burly, blokey drummer who always seemed out of place alongside ferry and eno (or even phil manzanera for that matter) has gone and got himself a smart short haircut in the "let's work together" video...

talking of people being out-of-touch, the "reformed" new seekers don't appear to have anything different to offer than they did 5 years earlier, with their weekend-hippy look and and lightweight pop-MOR fare. i had to start cringing as what seemed an interminable chorus rolled around yet again at the end, despite the bassist jigging about ever-more frantically in an effort to induce forced enthusiasm - it was a merciful release when the director (finally) pressed the canned-applause button...

art garfunkel had (and probably still has) the weirdest hairline in the history of rock (stranger than even diddy's), but is also considered one of the finest voices of his generation, so what went wrong here? did he have a cold or something that day? could he not really cut it live? (presumably he could when he performed to half a million people in central park), or was he not happy with the backing that had been cobbled together for him? whatever the reason, on this performance he has to be added to the ever-lengthening shortlist (if that's not a contradiction in terms) for "worst live vocal" on TOTP alongside marc bolan, lee garrett, and robin sarstedt... talking of the musical backing, i know the musicians' union tried all they could to get their members employed to recreate the sound of the records, rather than just playing the originals, bur at what point were the likes of art garfunkel made aware they had to sing along with hastily-concocted re-hashes (often performed by people who had little apprecation or understanding of contemporary pop music) of recordings they had possibly spent weeks if not months working on in studios stocked with the latest technology? also, never mind flick colby and her "back-of-a-fag-packet" choreographed routines, how much notice did musical director johnny pearson and his associates get to come up with the arrangements (presumably the charts were prepared by hand from scratch, and i know from personal experience that is a time-consuming and onerous task). sadly johnny died recently so unless he's left his recollections on the internet somewhere i don't suppose we'll ever find out. but maybe some of his old colleagues are still around and are following this site? if so, then guys please let us know how it all went down...

finally, at the end of "you to me are everything", when the lead singer (btw simon, i've mentioned it before but i'm sure it's chris, not eddie amoo) cuts loose with some ad-libbing, you'd think as there were 3 of his mates hanging around, one of them would take up the slack and do the lead line as part of the 3-part harmony wouldn't you? but no they don't so it sounds painfully thin and amateurish...

Adam Maunder said...

Well, I dunno, but I'm beginning to suspect there was some kind of pecking order as regards the hosting of this show, or maybe they drew lots - it's just I seem to recall the last of Diddy's shows being by some measure one of the dullest, and this one didn't exactly improve matters.

Pilot & Osibisa both struggling to recapture past glories, Demis pissing all over the perfectly credible work he'd done with Aphrodite's Child (who also counted Vangelis among their number, if you didn't know), and Garfunkel with ...what? Stevie Wonder?! Well, to be fair, I suppose young Mr. Judkins was working on Songs in the Key of Life at the time, so therefore any spare piece of blotting paper that could be tossed out to a pair of needy hands would've been accepted gratefully. At least it prevented Artie a) from buggering up any old standards again, and b) being reduced to singing love songs to dead rabbits.

The Flip's take on Mistura at least stuck them in the middle of an understandably agog crowd, and the New Seekers? Well, I've a bit of a soft spot for them - at least in comparison to their tedious forebears - but, no, that song was never exactly gonna take them much further than Seaside Special. (As opposed to You Won't Find Another Fool Like Me, which got 'em onto the 1973 Morecambe & Wise Christmas show, lest we forget.)

Yes, slim pickings. That said, Dave's gags did help make up for things a bit, and the thought of a solo routine by Ms. Gillespie has rather more of a pull on me than it should (What's wrong with me? I've resisted these cheeky, nudge-wink type of girls before. Must just be something about that... confidence of hers. Foul enchantress!).

Oh, and in passing - it's nice to know, Mr. Underhill, there are still others out there who keep a working VCR on hand. Keep it up!

Arthur Nibble said...

Worst show of the run so far for me, incredibly weak.

Can't believe they axed Cherry's routine for 'Misty Blue', which looked one of the best and most emotive solo turns in the show's history. looked like Cherry was told 'Just go for it, girl, do your own thing' and she read the song beautifully - witness, for example, her facial expression at 2:17 - and her hair flicks spoke volumes on their own.

Was the green T-shirted chap in The Real Thing a 'Dad's Army' fan? He did a great impersonation of Corporal Jones, his handclaps being a good half-second behind the beat. They don't like it up 'em!

Talking of catchphrases, The New Seekers missed a trick - they should have had Sir Bruce on stage doing 'nice to see you, to see you nice' to at least bring some audience participation, or life, into that wafer of a song.

Finally, let's get this right... that was Floyd in the catsuit in the Bryan Ferry video, and Jerry Hall in the tiger dress immediately afterwards dancing to 'The Flasher'...wasn't it?

Anonymous said...

The lead singer with Pilot was Dave Paton. Billy Lyall was the keyboard player.

Neil Barker.

wilberforce said...

further to my musings on the backing tracks provided on TOTP, i've done a little digging and found the following which you may find of interest:

Simon said...

Good work. I wonder where they actually are at this stage, whether those arrangemnets were taped or are being played live somewhere. And a non-orchestrated band like, say, Osibisa - is that a totally live performance, a band re-recording on set or did the string section have to get the sparebongos out?

Neil: again, thanks. I did look them up but you'd think somewhere on this wide internet there'd be some source that conclusively names a band's lead singer, wouldn't you?

Just glancing ahead, next week is a really interesting Pan's performance and the week after that... well, if you have an episode guide to hand, according to DigiGuide the studio performance you may be questioning has indeed made the edit.

Anyone who missed Ruby Flasher, it's turned up on YouTube in the last 24 hours but oddly from UK Gold's showing rather than BBC4's: I think I may have done Cherry's outfit a bravery disservice, it seems to be a garland fashioned into a bikini top. Floyd's get-up, however, looks no more dignified and that wasn't even the last of his being left the short straw, as we'll see when Disco Duck happens along in the autumn.

Noax said...

Arthur - I can believe they excised Cherry's dance from the edit, not because of her, ahem, talents but more because more than a minute of that song has me reaching for the mogadon.

The one thing I am surprised about is that the obligatory Diddy joke about Blackburn was actually quite funny (and got a laugh from either audience or crew) so a shame that didn't make the edit.

It was very slim pickings this week - oddly only one song from inside the Top 10 other than the Number 1 sound (I believe that's the correct phrase) and that was on video!

Just a thought about the Pilot song - this is a bit of a punt, but was it a vain attempt to cash in on the Montreal Olympics?!

Anonymous said...

Bit surprised they excised the Johnny Nash song as it was new. About that song: nice sentiments to be sure but if I was the girl I'd have to think twice before going out with such a thick sod!

Old Applejack said...

Only saw the full version this week. It seemed that Diddy was back-announcing everyone, so the curtailed version must have neen subject to some pretty sledgehammer edits? Or maybe not.

One thing caught my eye. Sister Sledge certainly weren't referring to me when they sang 'He's the Greatest Dancer'. I am, however, capable of moving in time to a simple, repetitive rhythm. A feat sadly beyond the girl in the hat at the end of line during Johnny Nash's song.

Surprised that Silly Love Songs has only ever got one airing, and that in a RF routine. It seems to have been hanging around the top ten for ages. I thought there was at least a video, of sorts?

Simon said...

It now seems that iPlayer doesn't archive the unedited version so I can't offer anything on Johnny Nash or this rare Diddy foray into something amusing. The edit was quite comfortable actually, it came in as he was exchanging badinage with some people around him.

Someone else has pointed that out about Silly Love Songs. there is something of a video on YouTube but it appears to be a compilation of live and reportage footage so could easily be after the fact, and presumably it didn't occur to anyone to repeat the original routine. There's no sign apart from playout of Rod Stewart's Tonight's The Night either despite three climbing weeks in the top ten, and you're not going to see the Manhattans' Kiss And Say Goodbye despite four weeks in the top ten because there was one play of the video and it's in a wiped show.

Arthur Nibble said...

Looking forward to the comedy single review, Simon. Will you be providing us with a list of the missing shows' contents? I tried looking for 1st July 1976 on t'web yesterday, as I thought it would be easy to see what we're missing, but I could only found enough info to nail two acts, one of whom might have been edited out anyway for personal reasons.

wilberforce said...

regarding bands re-recording their songs for TOTP: i remember watching a fly-on-the-wall feature about kajagoogoo going about the business of being pop stars in the 80's, where among other things they turned up at some basic studio owned by the beeb the day before an appearance on TOTP, and in accordance with MU regulations re-recorded the song they would mime to "live" in virtually one take... fortunately in their case, despite being a typical pretty-boy band of that era they were actually competent musicians as well so managed to get the job done adequately in the small amount of time they were allowed. presumably that was the case with all "self-contained" bands (such as osibisa and apparently even the beatles, according to one of those TOTP documentaries), with those unable ro comply left at the mercy of johnny pearson and his associates...

but what happened after johnny left the show in 1980? did anyone else take his place, or did they relent by that point and allow people to mime to the original recordings (or at least only partially re-record)? anyone who knows about this, please enlighten - thanks! if some beeb wallah was re-hashing-on-a-shoestring recordings made in the 80's, they must have found them ever more difficult to replicate due to the developing technology of drum machines, synths etc, not to mention loads of overdubs and effects like slap-bass and gated snare drums...

Simon said...

There'll be a post tomorrow regarding what we're missing.

I'm trying to remember the details I've read, but I think while the Musician's Union ruling was still in existence going into the 80s nobody really followed it unless it was a week when union reps were doing sudden a spot check, in which case most of the bands would have to rush into some sort of studio or do it live (cf Blue Monday).

Incidentally, re-recording seems to have helped Osibisa tighten up the original judging by its studio recording.

wilberforce said...

sorry to be back supping from the well again so soon, but i've just watched the repeat of this week's full edition on video, and i think i can offer up a theory on the real thing's backing singers/hangers-on (delete as appropriate) unco-ordinated handclapping - maybe they were "inspired" by the audience clapping along rather less-than-wholeheartedly whilst watching ruby flipper dance to "the flasher"? at least two girls are so embarrassed/disinterested/lethargic about it (one possibly being the same girl who couldn't dance to save her life behind johnny nash) that they can barely raise their arms and thus end up clapping their hands around the groin area, which is actually quite difficult to do (i tried it)... still, at least they were managing to clap on the second and fourth beats of the bar (although another girl was clearly having some difficulty) - quite an achievement as whiteys (the only black face in shot was floyd's) usually clap along on the first and third beats!

just a couple of other things whilst i'm here: diddy introduces a certain african/west indian combo as OH-sibisa (as opposed to OSS ibisa, which is the third variant on pronounciation to my knowledge - can anyone offer the definitive version?), and i had to fast-forward through demis roussos as when i watched the edited version "live" he actually made my ears hurt!

Anonymous said...

I reckon Diddy's other badge read "It's So Nice" presumably to tie in with the New Seekers song of the same name that was performed on the show.

Neil Barker.

seekenee said...

Reckon the unedited version is the re run to watch with your big sisters for commentary on 1976 fashion and dance, with the repeats and all we get 3 (maybe 4?) different audiences- priceless stuff.
Great to finally get a look at the January hitmakers - Pilot's singer looks like Paul weller c. 1974, but not PW 1976 obv.
Ah, the johnny Nash girl not dancing greatly, her friend, who's giving it loads is saying things to her, you can imagine her thinking "give me a break, I,m on totp and I,m not in time, i'll kill you after this.." she's cool .
Did anyone else notice the fly that landed on the brunette New Seeker's forehead? Never seen anything like it
Song of the year so far for the real thing, but why don't they mime with instruments, they're number one ffs
end credits extended was quite freeform yes a current fave spot, .....C

Steve Williams said...

Yes, in the book about Pops they sometimes promote after the show, there's a big photo of Diddy taken from this episode, and the badge does indeed say "IT'S SO NICE!".

As far as I know about the orchestra, after 1980 there was some sort of compromise when acts were allowed to mime as long as they re-recorded their song, thus theoretically providing musicians with work, but of course this never happened. Some XTC B-sides were recorded because the band's management had booked studio time for them to go through the motions of re-recording a single and Andy Partridge simply couldn't go to a studio without doing something. The MU never normally checked, but occasionally did, Wah! had to re-record The Story Of The Blues in about five minutes.

As it turns out this was actually my parents' favourite repeat so far, and I didn't think it was so bad, what with Osibisa and The Flasher and Alex Harvey, albeit them all having been on before.

wilberforce said...

sorry, couldn't resist another go:

yes, i'm sad enough to endure another rendition of that awful new seekers effort on youtube just to spot the "uninvited guest" - and yes, the fly alights on the fringe of the unfortunate and completely-unaware eve graham at the end of the first chorus, around 1:50 in - well spotted seekenee!

you have to bear in mind this was during the time of the greatest heatwave of the last century (remember denis howell, the minister for drought?), so i suppose flies were a bit more plentiful than normal...

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of Pilot. They recorded the album that Canada appeared on in Quebec, so I don't think it was a cash-in. The lyrics (always their weak spot, even on the hits Magic and January) are pretty trite but the tune, vocal harmonies and guitars are fantastic. Although it was a lacklustre performance, I have to admit. David Paton was apparently a reluctant frontman, and the band were having management problems and were about to lose another member. Their final appearance on Pops *sigh*

DSP said...

To follow up Neil Barker's correct comment, not only was Billy Lyall the keyboard player, he left before the recording of the "Morin Heights' LP from which Canada was taken.. The track was so called, as it was written there (Morin Heights being the name of the town in which the studio resided). It's probably their strongest album, and contains their fabulous 'Penny in my Pocket' which get get an airing on TOTP - there used to be a dodgy VHS grab of it on YouTube, now sadly gone, tho a couple of videos exist of them playing on the Arrows TV show.

Still, you weren't to know this! Great blog, really enjoy it - only just discovered it, so have some catching up to do!