Let's get this out of the way first, because it'll be keenly felt in the comments box, I can tell. Yes, unfolding drama in the Ruby Flipper camp as it turns out TOCG isn't so O after all - not only was she not present this week, she'd been excised from the troupe's end credit! Did she get time off? Surely not, dancers can't go on extended breaks from the show, they just record in advance, surely. Unless... she does come back, but given she's not long for the show anyway maybe she went on strike like that time Noel Edmonds had creative differences and refused to do House Party one week.
Unless she was ill.
Shall we ask her?
She'll probably have forgotten. It's not worth it. Also, I wouldn't know how to ask her.
Jimmy's back in charge for one of what aren't that many appearances in 1976, at least in the sector of it we're covering. He's dressed up for the occasion this week, none of his glitter patterned speciality T-shirts, it's a jacket a bit like a police constable's, dignified if polka-dotted tie... oh, the pull-back reveals he's wearing a kilt. Always has to spoil things.
The charts reveal a new Wings single and a new Wings picture, all five holding gold discs to emphasise their big shot status. Linda looks most unsure.
Slik – The Kid's A Punk
Now, hold on youngsters, while there may have been prescience in choosing to release a song with that word in the title in July 1976, the month of the Ramones' celebrated catalystic London Roundhouse gig and six months after it was first coined in America to refer to that form of rock (we caught on in February within the Sex Pistols' NME debut - see, it's not just sneering at bad mainstream music fashion here, you learn stuff too), but what eleven year old Midge and baseball-attired friends are clearly meaning here, unless they were hugely prescient on writing it, is the (namechecked in the second line) youth gone wild delinquency/cool-as dropout use of the word. Midge backs that up with his opening stance, clicking his fingers contemptuously like someone who was just too damned good for Guys & Dolls round a pretend lamp-post. His acting masterclass isn't over once he gets into the song, though, staring down the camera on the chorus, challenging us to disagree with his assessment of the fictional subject. As if we didn't know from the dress sense Slik are by this stage definitely the sort of people who wish they were American or at least second hand aspire to its culture but aren't quite sure how to go about co-opting it, rolling out barrelhouse piano, FM soft rock choruses and the idea Glasgow is well across the idea of a "hip shaking, heartbreaking hobo". As a crazed sax player holds the middle eight hostage Ure, just to set the seal on this being someone else's dream, draws out a flick-comb and draws it across the sides of his hair like he thinks he once saw James Dean do. America was a long way away in those days, congenitally as well as figuratively. "Of course they're from Scotland, of course" Jimmy repetitively states afterwards, just to rub it in. It wasn't a hit. By this point in 1977 Ure was an actual punk in PVC2 (who were Slik with a new name, clothes and guitar tuning anyway) and then the Rich Kids.
David Dundas – Jeans On
And this week providing something to fill the stage gaps, the temporarily reduced Ruby Flipper! The message is clear. BACK OFF, HOT GOSSIP, THIS IS OUR PATCH. As if to show they can do the suggestive stuff as well as any Arlene Phillips choreography, their collective stance at outset will come in familiar to anyone who's seen Rita, Sue And Bob Too. For some reason all but Lulu are wearing hats too - huge peaked cap for Floyd, workman's cap for Sue, blue Liam Gallagher bucket hat for Philip, golf visor for Patti. Maybe Lulu's hair was too high maintenance to be messed with. Also worth noting "when I wake up" is literally rubbing of eyes. Dundas has at least remembered not to wear slacks this week, but he still looks a little friendless there all on his tod.
Billie Jo Spears – What I've Got In Mind
Jimmy must have completely mistimed a simple introduction as having introduced this video he chooses to improvise: "Also we have all sorts of other great sounds as well, on account of tonight is a good night for music. How about this one? Yes siree." Not exactly a flashy COMING SOON graphic, is it? Billie Jo is on whatever show it was that all the country clips come from and looks most unsure of her surroundings, and rather like a lost early 80s Coronation Street character.
Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Here Comes The Sun
It's a video and a half, this one.
Oh, no, that's not the right one, hang on a moment. Ah, now, this is it. Never quite tops its opening thirty seconds, really.
I want the percussionist's job. He's still not as threatening as Harley, despite wielding a mallet for his job. Harley himself has before long been comfortably covered from every angle.
KC & The Sunshine Band – (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty
Or The KC Sunshine Band, as Jimmy calls them. Of course Ruby Flipper were always destined for this one. Surrounded by an expectant audience and with TOCG having been kidnapped by errant gypsies Patti steps up and takes the jointly significant mantles of most gawping at camera and most minimalist top, although all three will catch their death if they go out like that. Obviously there's shakeage when required, and occasionally when not, but Flick must have been caught off guard by the reduction in numbers as the rest is mere leaning, arm waving and sidestepping filler. What's more, most of the shaking is done from the shoulders and on at least a couple of occasions the lower legs, which defeats the purpose of choosing this song. Dancer of the day goes to Floyd, who gets to illustrate the words "very well" in closeup by pretending to lick his finger and then making that circle with the thumb and forefinger gesture that people did in the 1970s to express goodness.
Dorothy Moore – Misty Blue
"Everybody take a breather!" Surrounded by pretty much the entire audience, which he creeps into surely accidentally while on camera in the background about thirty seconds before Ruby Flipper have finished, Jimmy cues up the same video clip as last time.
Billy Ocean – L.O.D. (Love On Delivery)
And will sir be favouring the mustard coloured waistcoat with matching trousers a size too small over the shirt with the green and white striped mint-like design tonight? Decently strident and professional performance, but this is where the cameraman gets his excuse to indulge in his weekly hit-and-run audience rampage, his target primed and set this week for a girl getting into Ocean somewhat, joyously bouncing around in her cool Wolfie Smith-turns-fisherman cap until being stopped in her tracks and then, judging by her expression, having her foot run over by the machinery.
Twiggy – Here I Go Again
One thing we haven't discussed in the two or three weeks since it was erected is the new stage backdrop, designed in a V shape without the point, with hundreds of small Noddy Holder's hat-style mirrors attached which at times move about as if being shaken by some black-clad stagehand. If it's meant to resonate the glitter of glitzy pop it only works in stages - Dundas' backing was a spectacular prism of random flashing, yet here they don't seem to reflect any light much as Twiggy doesn't seem to exude much charisma or singing ability. Of course this is the same Twiggy who stands now in her big eyelashes as shorthand for 60s Mary Quant fashion, going on to spend the 70s and much of the 80s in stage musicals and the early 00s being the worst This Morning host ever, but with a shot at pop in the middle. Fair to say that by this time she's less the waifish Vogue androgyne and more the lost Charlie's Angel in her all white trouser and waistcoat outfit and poor make-up. Just to make sure it's caught the trend of the day it's a country number (originally by Country Joe & The Fish), one that, reinterpreted in-house, loses Ms Lawson's voice somewhere in the mix. All the pleading eyes she makes at the mixed-in close-up camera shots won't save her now.
Elton John & Kiki Dee – Don't Go Breaking My Heart
Yeah, I know. What can you do? This time it's enlivened by Jimmy's original and wayward way with the language. "And now, what should we have now?" is the link's opening gambit and again it runs slightly too long for comfort, leading him to freestyle: "We have just time to say how are all of you at home? Very good we are? Here we go!" Rather too late in the show to be asking after us, your loyal viewership, but it's appreciated nonetheless. "We've assembled the troops!" Jimmy announces afterwards, though they aren't actually troops, they're women in nurses' uniforms whose presence is never explained, and he spends most of the link standing in front of them anyway, but is presumably something to do with Jim's famously tireless charity work. That's how he earned that OBE he proudly has displayed by his name in the credits. Hopefully. "Yes siree!" he concludes for the fourth time in the show. Someone called Jesse Green's something called Nice And Slow, which seems to be an instrumental only because in the actual version (he's on an upcoming show, you'll see) he doesn't start singing for more than a minute, soundtracks those controversial cast lists.
EDIT NEWS: So evidently BBC4 don't trust a pre-watershed audience with Sheer Elegance's 'challenging' subject matter, as It's Temptation misses out for the second of two appearances. Unique Sheer Elegance sense of fashion watch: red dungarees over blue shirts with sleeve ruffs. When at one point all three try twirls, all completely out of sync and one in a different direction to his colleagues, you begin to understand why they never had another hit. 5000 Volts turn up with just Linda, the guitarist (who doesn't even bother pretending when it comes to the talkbox bit) and bassist, so there must have been rows there. Lastly was Johnny Wakelin & The Kinshasa Band, which has to be posted for all sorts of reasons, from Jimmy's manner of disappearing out of shot to the shaker maker's manly chest, but mainly the bassist having some gloriously undignified issues with his headgear at 1:38.
Oh, and Jimmy was wearing a kilt to promote his role as Chieftain of the Lochaber Highland Games, a role he still holds after forty years albeit only in an honorary position now. That's not an excuse.