Wednesday, 20 July 2011

TOTP 8/7/76 (tx 20/7/11): last night before the Proms

Well, there's the first proper row this blog's stoked up. Even in such unfortunate circumstances, glad to find out that Popular, the fine UK number ones blog by Guardian/Pitchfork contributor Tom Ewing, is hosting a lively TOTP debate itself in its comments box. Also, hello back to the One For The Dads forum.

Tony Blackburn in charge this week, and he pretends to forget the show's name... until reminded by himself in a thought bubble. Cliche, I know, but this really isn't too far from one of the set-ups in Smashie & Nicey: End Of An Era. Really did their research, they did. Still can't work out what Archie Bell and the Drells are doing in their chart still. They seem to be doing laps of an inflatable boxing ring.

Sutherland Brothers & Quiver – When The Train Comes In
We start on a close-up of a 'SBQ' badge, which is one way of self-identifying. Since we last had them round Iain Sutherland has solved the problem of his receding hairline rather too well with a Breton fisherman's cap and a fulsome beard while his band have gone in for Doobie Brothers-style funk rhythm guitar, if that's not too much a suggestion led on by the train theme. Also, Bruce Thomas looks even more like Chris Langham than last time. There's plenty of dancing going on to their hi-hat heavy FM rock which from its middle eight's interplay sounds like the last chorus is just getting in the way unnecessarily, with the crowd giving each other plenty of space. Tony is so excited he bellows his link out. "Gonna be a smash, that one!" It wasn't.

Candi Station – Young Hearts Run Free
"Listen to the words of this one" Tony advises, good advice given nobody could have been concentrating on the track when presented with Flick's interpretation. As with Thin Lizzy it's awkwardly shuffling audience members intercut with a performance clip in which Candi seems to be wearing a dream catcher, which cocks up when the director fades back in seconds too early for the second chorus and we see another audience, this time American ergo confident, which had clearly been intercut by whichever US programme Staton was recorded for. Both her and the kids prove there was lots of elbow movement inherent to 1976 dancing.

The Champ's Boys Orchestra – Tubular Bells
Tony gets a head and shoulders shot with the studio lights above him, which just means loads of empty blank space as if Rusty Goffe had taken over the camera. And what's the song, Tone? "From Tubular Bells, it's called... from Champ's Boys". Idiot boards are called that for a reason. This week's big idea is to take advantage of the long hot summer and send Ruby Flipper to the Blue Peter garden, not running roughshod over the flowers Les Ferdinand-style but in fact on a big square of carpet in the middle of a dug out patch of soil. Six in white sitting in a circle being liberally doused with petals and confetti out of a big wicker bowl by Patti. There's a lot of outstretching of arms going on before the inevitable running around. It's quite paganistic in a way that doesn't suit a poor attempt to mix Mike Oldfield's theme with Love To Love You Baby. Coupled with that for further oddness, one of them is wearing inappropriate dress, a sheikh's outfit, and for once it's not Floyd lumbered with it (Philip, in fact). Some continuity kept, though - The Omnipresent Cherry Gillespie has the shortest skirt and thinnest top of all four women. Tony attempts a joke about a dead garden. It dies. Appropriately.

Billy Ocean – L.O.D. (Love On Delivery)
If all else fails, stick a soul singer in front of keen teens on the tiny tiered stage and let the orchestra do their worst. Billy's chosen to make himself known by sporting a bright pink top. One girl in the audience attempts oneupmanship in the awkward fashion stakes with triple denim (jeans, shirt, waistcoat) and a Wurzels memorial neckerchief.

Elton John & Kiki Dee – Don’t Go Breaking My Heart
The video in a pretend studio, which you used to see a lot but is always worth appreciating to see just how smug Elton's face between lines is.

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – The Boston Tea Party
For the second time the introduction makes specific reference to the 200th anniversary of American independence, which must have been quite a big thing in that case. And in case we'd forgotten another long running perennial, Tony notes this is "just about the same age as David Hamilton". Just about the only act Tony doesn't actually call "sensational", they're back in the studio to scare the children. Harvey, with bloodhound eyes, fulsome beard and habit of staring down the lens as if it's offering him out, looks like he hasn't been to sleep since his last studio appearance. This is entirely plausible. He has, after all, chosen to appear on prime time BBC television in denim hot pants and a massive hat. There's a small cannon in front of the drumkit but we don't see it go off, and no wonder as you fear what Harvey might have thought it was and what his reaction would have been. Further point: the keyboard appears to be of that Casio-rivalling brand Professional Piano. Surely a Ronseal offshoot. "Showing a pair of sensational legs" Tony lies.

Dorothy Moore – Misty Blue
More Soul Train setpiece, this time far too slow for anyone to appreciably dance to in anything but a sway. "I've never known a time when there's been so many great records about" claims Tony, despite the evidence of this run so far.

5000 Volts – Dr Kiss Kiss
And here's another oddity that, while the records claim it made number eight, seems so out of place it's possible it never actually existed beyond osmosis. A couple of people are seen walking away from the stage after one line, which isn't that sporting but does demonstrate the folly of linking a huge voiced country singer in Linda Kelly sporting a heavy secretary-goes-clubbing fringe with a band who start out tentatively disco-funky - and only a tentative disco-funk band would pose for promo shots like this - before going the full sub-Fox. And by that we mean the most televisually ostentatious talkbox playing we've ever seen, the guitarist gurning to camera and wrapping his lips round the pipe where others (alright, Frampton) do it casually as if we might not notice. Meanwhile the bassist produces a stethoscope and for some reason checks Kelly's shoulder. I'm not making this up. After that's done with Tony introduces "a very surprise guest", which must be a superior level of surprise. It's Ian Mitchell, who seems to be about twelve but is the new bassist for the Bay City Rollers, who in a highly stilted fashion and while sporting an open shirt lets Tony know they played to 50,000 kids in America and they'll be touring here in September. Once Tony has to introduce the next performance he really doesn't know where to look. FYI, Mitchell left in November claiming he was "getting out before I stick my head in a gas oven", not that that stops him playing in America as The Bay City Rollers Featuring Ian Mitchell.

The Real Thing – You To Me Are Everything
A new number one! Presumably the three silver objects are meant to be the stars Eddie Amoo wants to take out of the sky for you, but they look more like forward planning a performance for the Christmas show. Costumes still haven't been synchronised, Eddie in a flat cap, one bandmate in butcher's pinstriped dungarees, another with the magically returned guitar apparently in a woman's orange halterneck top. Awkwardly someone is occasionally clapping along too close to a mike, unless that was an orchestra member wanting to make a point about union rates. Marvellously, at the end Tony facilitates a stage invasion, though once up there none of the kids really know what to do and end up looking like lemons, which is easy enough anyway given they're taking inspiration from Tony Blackburn. War play us out, "see you on Saturday for Seaside Special".

EDIT NEWS: There isn't any, it was only ever a half hour long show this week. Makes this gig a lot simpler.


Steve Williams said...

Six months after Bohemian Rhapsody we hadn't quite got the pop video explosion yet, had we, what with Candi Staton - presumably on the Soul Mass Transit System - and Dorothy Moore. I though The Real Thing might have been another "video" before that stage invasion but seemingly they'd just forgotten to put up a set.

5000 Volts is the first time Tony's actually correctly predicted a record was going to be a big hit. I find Linda Kelly terrifying in that performance, unsurprising when the camera's up her nose. That talkbox break was awful, for all the guitarist played it up, you could barely hear it, and surely the point of the talkbox is to talk into it, not just go "waah waah waah", the guitar already does that.

So which member of the Flips managed to bang into Patti during the big circle bit at the end?

Anonymous said...

Well, no actual songs were edited out, but the instrumemtal break from "Boston Party" was cut, and the playout of "Me & Baby Brother" by War was faded early.

Neil Barker.

Anonymous said...

Obviously I meant "instrumental" and not "instrumeMtal"! It's too early in the day!!!


Anonymous said...

..and I meant "Boston TEA Party" too! I'll get me coat...


Arthur Nibble said...

I’ll have a gander and maybe make some comments later, but first a request to our leader…

Without wanting to give too much away or peak too early, the next edition features a jaw-dropping act who might miss the director’s cut for three reasons –

1) the performance and orchestration are kitsch to put it as, erm, nicely as possible

2) the song was a complete flop so might be edited out for that reason

3) (and most crucially) the presenter needlessly cocks up their introduction by heavily name-checking the previous act who might be cut; it looks almost impossible to salvage the ruined link, so I fear we’ll be spared this astonishing act’s only appearance on telly.

Sorry to ask, Simon, but even if it doesn’t make the edited version, could you please give us a critique of the performance and maybe attach a link if needs be? If ever an act was crying out for your finest observations, this is it. If you’d be kind enough to fulfil my request, that would be super, man.

Simon said...

Oh, not that performance from the next show that might be cut... I think this is one of those that's largely archived on YouTube so I'll do my best, but although it isn't always accurate it's listed on the DigiGuide blurb for the 7.30 version anyway (as is the song before it).

Neil: checking the full version again on YouTube (and assuming the iPlayer version is exactly the same as the TV edit) it looks like SAHB did the instrumental cut themselves.

wilberforce said...

thanks to simon's lightning-quick reaction to this week's episode, i actually read his review before i watched this week's show, which kind of spoiled the surprise ha ha! anyway, here's my input:

SUTHERLAND BROTHERS - maybe the singer got the idea for the hat from fellow scot and pop-folkie benny gallagher of gallagher & lyle fame? (not that i'm suggesting benny wore his for similar reasons) - obviously when comes to pop stars with flyaway hair, then fat reg (who also happened to appear on this week's edition - already receding fast at this point although not yet doing anything obvious to hide it other than dye it blond) is the most well-documented case, but perhaps the most desperate of the lot was hollies drummer bobby elliott - from the early days he experimented with ways of hiding his hairline, initially with a combover and then by wearing a variety of hats, before finally appearing in a series of shaggy syrups of varying lengths and colours... one more thing here: is that really bruce thomas of attractions fame on bass? he always had blond hair and glasses and a studious look, unlike this geeky guy!

CHAMPS BOYS - unless this was broadcast "live", there's really no excuse to have kept tony's messed-up link instead of re-recording it again until he got it right, especially as there's no panning shot either from the previous performer or to the next one... otherwise, it's either down to the beeb being a bunch of amateurish tightwads, or else tone had already fluffed his lines at least once before, with the director giving up and saying "f*ck it, that will have to do"...

SAHB - the best thing about this lot in my view was bassist chris glen - always a great stage presence, but unlike some on this show (including the presenter) he also had fantastic hair! alex himself really does look haggard and grizzled in the manner of a thunderbird/special brew-slurping street person - and to think in his younger days he was billed as "scotland's answer to tommy steele"! oh yes, there is a puff of smoke from the cannon near the start (or more likely, a burst from a dry ice-making machine placed strategically behind it)...

NEW BAY CITY ROLLER - ah yes, the occasional micro-interview technique with a popster who isn't actually performing (the last time they tried it was with eric carmen in one of the first episodes) - what was the point of getting someone to make the effort to come into the studio when they weren't actually performing? perhaps they should have got pop stars to give a brief interview as well as perform/mime... although seeing jools holland toadying up to various music legends/superstars is one reason i no longer watch "later"...

5000 VOLTS - did anyone else notice the pot-bellied middle-aged man (the ducker?) making his way across shot at the beginning? presumably he was the "audience herder"... also, weren't this band exposed in a "milli vanilli"-type scandal/scenario? i'm sure the vocals were done by the mousy/dumpy tina charles rather than the blonde dollybird featured here (mind you, she wasn't exactly a spring chicken ha ha)...

REAL THING - at the risk of antagonising our esteemed blog-creator to whom we are most grateful, can anyone else confirm my belief that the lead singer is actually chris amoo and not eddie - he being the sometimes guitarist with the braid-things in his hair? (btw, in more recent times i seem to remember chris - or was it eddie - winning a "best of breed" award at crufts!)... having made such a pig's ear of the harmonies at the end last week when chris ad-libs, this week his chums don't even attempt any and just stick to singing the melody in unison... thus perhaps offering inspiration to bananarama?

BEST AUDIENCE MOMENT - at the end when the gum-chewing girl moves casually (almost inadvertently) into shot not taking the slightest notice of what tony blackburn is saying (then again, maybe that's not such a bad thing)...

ximeremix said...

Just a quickie: The Candi Staton clip looks like it was from Soul Train

ximeremix said...

Oh, and Alex H. looks sooooo sexy in those demin shorts and his beard - maybe he had just come doing one of those Denim After Shave commercials??!!

Simon said...

5000 Volts had already been caught out, Tina had moved on to her solo career and this seems to be their first single with a new proper vocalist.

And the last interview-only guest was Hank Mizell on Saville's one repeated show so far, asked nothing more than what his next single would be called and then pretending to recognise a picture of David Bowie as a lead-in to the celebrated TVC15 routine.

As for The Real Thing, it's the same issue as Pilot from last week, in that there doesn't seem to be anywhere online that confirms it other than references to Eddie being the leader. And I keep forgetting to check for sure which Amoo sang on that one.

wilberforce said...

re: 5000 volts - sorry yes simon you're right: i should have checked on wikipedia rather than just relied on a 35-year old memory ha ha! the girl used to front the band and mime to tina charles' vocals on their earlier hit "i'm in fire" was luan peters, who was also a glamourous blonde just like her replacement on "dr kiss kiss" - she is probably best remembered in an episode of fawlty towers, as an australian guest whose breast is mistaken for a lightswitch by basil fawlty!

yes, also forgot about hank mizell's "interview" as well - fancy bringing him all that way just to ask him one question!

anyone who can solve the mystery of which amoo sung lead on the real thing's records please do so... even if it may be a case of "much amoo about nothing" (sorry!)

Noax said...

I have no Amoos news - ooh, get me, it's almost like I'm a crazy gherkin Radio 1 DJ! - but here are my thoughts on this week :-

Champs Boys - what an extraordinary cover version, I'd never heard that before. It was nice to see that the main memory I had of the long hot summer of 1976 of there being no actual green grass anywhere seemed to be true. My other memory (I was 4 at the time) is of lots of ladybirds but it was difficult to see any of those in shot. Actually, I'm a bit disappointed that Floyd didn't dress up as one.

Billy Ocean - OK, not his best song, but what a fantastic performance! He was really going for it, and unlike others who've done the same (hello, Lee Garrett) his vocals were great.

SAHB / Dorothy Moore - Together, the easiest fast-forward decision for quite some time.

5000 Volts - This really was quite extraordinary. I actually wanted to fast forward but couldn't bring myself to do it, like watching a musical car crash. I think this performance may have the lowest ratio of attempted sexiness to actual sexiness of anything I've ever seen on TV.

The Real Thing - Were they trying to make the audience feel cool by dressing up the set to look the Xmas Pops? All it's succeeded in doing in this house is make me go round singing 'When a child is born' which is doing nobody any good.

Anonymous said...

Simon, I just checked the Einsfestival broadcast of 8/7/76 and SAHB were definitely shown in full, so it was BBC4 who did the edit. I'll try to get to the bottom of this Amoo business too!

Neil Barker.

Anonymous said...

OK, the lead singer on "You To Me Are Everything" was none other that one-time Crufts winner Chris Amoo. Here is a pic of his solo single from 1981 :


wilberforce said...

thanks for that neil! i can now sleep at night once again... btw, did anyone think my pun on the real thing's brothers' name was highly amoo-sing? (sorry again but couldn't resist it!)

Old Applejack said...

I cannot say it enough, but I really REALLY hate that Elton John video. Everytime it gets wheeled out there's only one thought going through my mind: WHY ARE YOU KISSING HER DUNGAREES???

Better get used to it I guess.

Only other thing to note was that the BBC Orchestra seemed to be going a bit quick on "You To Me". Thought the boys were a bit put off by it.

Anonymous said...

The play out song...Who?

Arthur Nibble said...

The play-out song is 'Me and Baby Brother' by War (number 30).

I actually make a point of reading Simon's critique before watching the show on BBC iPlayer. I like to know what to look out for!

Besides, you learn something new every day - I didn't know those hoopy feather things were called dream catchers.

On further research, I was gutted to find this re-run started just after Billy Ocean reached number 2 with 'Love Really Hurts Without You'. Old Bill certainly showed Art how to use that wedding cake tier!

By the way, did anyone else watch Elton John and think his gurning performance might have been the inspiration for Harry Hill?


Steve Morgan said...

I've really been enjoying these 1976 repeats. This weeks edition was certainly the best yet though now that the novelty hits are out of the way, and we have a clear run of classic number ones between now and the end of the year.
Highlights for me this week were 5000 Volts, I always liked that one and bought the single back in the day, I also bought their previous single I'm On Fire. Billy Ocean, performing one of his lesser hits was also a highlight, He gave his all for that one. Always nice to see SAHB, especially on TOTPs, incidentally the late night edition was not edited and the SAHB clip was played in full.
As a soul fan I was also pleased to see Dorothy Moore with her lush hit Misty Blue, that's the kind of music I could listen to all evening.
At last Elt and Kiki turned up, we'll be getting that one almost every week now until it drops from pole position.
I'll try and keep up with this "blog" comments on here are just up my street and I love to talk about seventies pop anytime.

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, I did record to repeat as well Just In Case, and Boston Tea Party was unedited.

Steve Williams said...

Heh, that was me, I got a bit trigger happy with the publish button. And it should be "reord the repeat".

Arthur Nibble said...

Just a thought - the producer missed a trick by not using the thought bubble again later in the show...

The next song's 'Tubular Bells' and its by, erm...

(bubble) Champs Boys, you idiot!

wilberforce said...

nice one arthur!