Thursday, 29 September 2011

TOTP 23/9/76 (tx 29/9/11): duck and cover

Relevant information: Pan's People And TOTP Dance Troupes will have an interview with Lulu of Ruby Flipper (and at that time she was only 16! Some of you are feeling a little embarrassed now, admit it) and Legs & Co up some time in October.

Tony Blackburn back in charge this week, and there's suspicious amounts of blank space around him in the frame... and it turns out it's another "crikey, Nicey's just read my mind!" moment as Tony pretends to forget the title again, only this time it's not himself reminding him in the speech bubble, it's Noel direct from the wiped show in a suit with a purple and orange tie going through the title one word at a time. Tony's sense of achievement upon realising is not palpable.

Elton and Kiki are already down to 26, the record buying public certainly wiping their hands of that whole mess as quickly as possible. One new entry seems to be just represented by a shaped blur, but we'll come back to that one.

Smokie – I'll Meet You At Midnight
There's one heroic orchestral figure with which to start. In front of an audience including a woman in an Uncle Sam hat and her friend who looks quite a bit like Lulu Flipper and nearly takes a highyl visible tumble, Chris Norman makes love with his eyes to a wandering camera crane before a sudden lighting change reveals - egads - a man with a double-necked guitar! Norman's full throated post-Rod growl and some sterling work by Johnny Pearson's men elevate it from being just another MOR strummer song type, as I suppose does the oddly French textural lyricism, and the audience seem as keen as they ever could be, though a crane swing round reveals much of the front of the stage is taken up by a big camera, reflecting the stage lighting uncomfortably, which might be why it gets turned down for dramatic effect too early meaning our show-off guitarist is in the shade for a whole verse and pre-chorus. Next to it a girl in a lime green coat and what seems to be a cut down version of Noddy Holder's hat stares listlessly at the back of the redeveloped stage. Maybe it was she that nicked all the mirrors. It's one of Tony's favourite songs at the moment, apparently.

The Wurzels – I Am A Cider Drinker
"A nice half-pint of that lovely scrumpy they call cider"? Cider's not an obscure term, Tony - in fact if anything the concept of scrumpy is more parochial to the Zummerzet set. And what's with the undersizing of portions? Same performance as last week, not cut to so many ribbons this time, and it allows us to consider a) whether, after Drink Up Thy Zider, whether the Wurzels doth protest too much, and b) when these were shown in Germany a couple of years ago what must that populace have thought of us?

Kiki Dee – Loving And Free
"We're going to change the mood somewhat right now, very dramatically in fact". Well, that's one way past the impossible link when you don't have Jim's indefatigable resources of bringing working men and women on as props or Noel's free associating style. Although Kiki's in the studio once more she's still sitting primly upon a high stool, and through the turned down lights we can make out, not an audience or anything so prosaic, but the return of the wedding cake tiers. Electric blue eyeshadow, overlaid candle flames, you can't say they're not trying to breathe active life into the performance.

Bay City Rollers – I Only Wanna Be With You
Tony drags the most nervously monosyllabic girl he can find on screen to exchange pleasant badinage on the basis that she and her friend have attached tinsel to their berets, which are of course "sensational" in Blackburn Land. The song Tony refers to as "I Only Wanna Be, of course, With You" is in video form, where we get to observe Les mistaking gurning, shoulder movement and an open shirt for charm and a fresh outbreak of tartan.

Rod Stewart – Sailing
Speaking of overwhelming Scottishness aforefront... Sailing had been number one just the previous September but was being as the theme to Sailor, a BBC documentary about the Ark Royal. There were people who missed its four weeks on top in 1975 but suddenly caught on a year later? Enough to take it to number three, in fact, though last week (as in the week before original broadcast) The Killing Of George FamNO, DAVID had been to number two so everyone won all round. But mostly Rod. Tony has the two hat girls up with him and they really don't know where to look. Rod looks like an older Noel Fielding at a Wurzel Gummidge fancy dress party and the camera doesn't cut away from a head and shoulders close-up of him for a full fifty seconds. It's hypnotising. Then millions of swaying children gradually join in on choral BVs. Eventually a serious outbreak of arm swaying takes hold leaving Rod eventually crouched on the floor, spent and craven. It's like Emu's Pink Windmill Show had a budget upgrade (and, erm, a loss of Rod, Emu and Grotbags. Work with me here.) Would it be churlish to mention most of one whole section is swaying their arms in the opposite direction to everybody else? *thinks* No. Tony makes sure to mention Sailor is on at 9.25 tonight on this channel. No it isn't.

Rick Dees & His Cast Of Idiots – Disco Duck
You'd, erm, better just watch this. Floyd must have lived next door to a single magpie farm.

If ever a routine promised one thing at outset (close-ups of Sue's waggling arse) and delivered another (some people in big impressionistic duck suits) it was this, though I can't imagine Floyd was particularly keen on that design of waistcoat. He's getting the chance to display his swagger move set, though, gets a good few seconds of full-on solo work like he'd never had or have again after becoming human once again and he even gets to mouth along to the words as part of his choreography. Floyd was only 17 then as well, until that moment it's like everything he's worked towards. Look how nonplussed the audience are at the costume change. Observe how studiously his fellow dancers ignore the presence of the large cloth beast (except, needless to say, Cherry, who at 1:31 is definitely looking up at something and failing to stifle a grin, which might explain why she's missing from the wide group shot eight seconds later) Note from 1:17 that Philip is still miming along to the words. And cry. Cry for the lost hope of the optimistic young television dancer and the patience of the exalted choreographer who once believed in her charges. Is that Floyd himself in the costume? Is that the respective Flipperers in those costumes? Were they assigned one each if so or was it just who got to the pile first? What the fuck is Tony doing at the end? We might never know.

'Disco Duck' was trending on Twitter half an hour after the show finished. Our work here is done.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band – Blinded By The Light
Ah. A return to earthier stuff, if you'll forgive the phrase. Before then, Tony re-emerges in his own dry ice holding an oversized egg ("someone said I should go to work on an egg. You can definitely tell pantomime season is approaching"), never quite recovering his composure. A different performance this week, where one clever shot has Chris Thompson and Mann delivering their lines across each other in the same still shot. Thompson is meanwhile dressed more sedately, unless you count the big purple hat and the visible yellow T-shirt with a big red S on like a six year old attempting a customised Superman kit. There's no close-ups of the drummer so we don't get to tell whether he's wearing a Benny-style woolly hat or a Basil Fawlty-style big head bandage.

The Drifters – Every Night's A Saturday Night With You
Trouble with showbiz professionals drilled to within an inch of their corresponding life is there's not all that much to say about them once the fact all four Drifters are wearing yellow trousers, which seems to have been a popular colour amongst the 1976 soul community, has been taken in. Take heed, The Real Thing, these people talked to each other about their styling for big television occasions. Meanwhile an errant cameraman has evidently blazed an unnecessary trail given the big gap between groups of audience members right at the front with not even a wire visible between them. No wonder quite a few are now looking out specifically for maurading EMIs.

ABBA – Dancing Queen
"The show tonight is rather like David Hamilton - a little shorter than usual". Couldn't get through the whole thing without one, could he? And of course that line doesn't work, not when the last TOTP we saw was the same length, and not in a slot where they're all this length, and David Hamilton has always been the height he is. He should have thought ahead 35 years for such anachronistic eventualities, should Tony. Wisely Tony says goodbye before the song this time, which is the Australian performance again. See the way Anni-Frid plays fast and loose with the concept of choreography. By the end of the second chorus it's abundantly clear she missed her true calling as the Swedish Alf Ippititimus.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The disappeared: 16/9/76

There's a little awkward patch of wiped shows here. From September to before Christmas 1976 six shows out of 17 have been wiped, and while it's not actually as bad as that sounds - there's an unbroken run of seven weeks after this, for starters - here two shows out of three have been lost, meaning in BBC4's timeline there's a lot of repetition between last week and this one coming. One artist ends up on the repeats three weeks in a row, earning them an unfortunate 5000 Volts-like consistency. In better news, we here get to skip a week of Noel's free associating.

Tommy Hunt – Loving On The Losing Side
Hunt had been in the Flamingos of I Only Have Eyes For You fame and a good decade or more on had a shortlived spell as a Wigan Casino favourite, which with its string arrangement can only mean a well meaning visitor to our shores being held to hostage by Johnny Pearson.

Tina Charles – Dance Little Lady Dance
Speaking of which, I believe this is the performance for which she got to her run-through and discovered the orchestra were playing it at twice the speed of the original and she couldn't stop because she feared getting a bad reputation and never being asked back. Which she was, which demonstrates something about grinning and bearing it.

J.A.L.N. Band – Disco Music (I Like It)
Blunt. This slab of British disco was on the TOTP2 repeated special a couple of weeks ago and will be on the show again.

The Real Thing – Can’t Get By Without You
Two appearances for this perennial lover's soul favourite, both wiped. Again, we can only imagine who got the mustard coloured waistcoat this week.

Jesse Green – Nice And Slow
Someone must have really fancied this song's chances, this is its third of four appearances and it still never got above number 17. It's not like he was in the country for ages either, this is a repeat of his one studio visit, as is the next showing.

Pussycat – Mississippi
Losing out to the wiles of the archivers twice in a row! There's always a next time.

Starland Vocal Band – Afternoon Delight
Unlike for the Starlands ("they suck!"), who do a Can't Get By Without You. Shame Afternoon Delight never followed Morning Glory onto the show.

Gheorge Zamfir – Doina De Jale (Light Of Experience)
This is that strange entry denoted in the rundown by a man playing pan pipes, which became a hit after being used by a BBC religious programme called The Light Of Experience, described by the BFI site as "Series in which people relate experiences which have changed their lives". It's Ruby Flipper's turn for the week but the record seems a slight thing, surely far too slow and hesitant a melody to get much more than vague arm waving while crouched in blowsy sheet dresses out of.

ABBA - Dancing Queen
At least for sanity's sake we miss two of the six weeks this spent atop the pile.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

TOTP 9/9/76 (tx 22/9/11): the great pub rock revival

Something of a sea change for the rest of the 1976 run as all the remaining shows are half an hour long in their original form, so no excuse for editing from here on it (except possibly the show before Christmas which might run slightly long, and of course we don't yet know what slots the Christmas shows themselves get) The repeats are still on, though.

As a further aside, I liked this blog post about TOTP.

Jimmy Savile in charge, and as offputting as his bright orange tracksuit top with plunging neckline is as a hors d'oeuvre we only get a top half shot for now, which is a blessed relief for three or four minutes.

Eddie & The Hotrods – Get Out Of Denver
Punk! Well, it's not, it's rough-house pub rock by way of rockabilly as punk doesn't arrive in single form until late October and not on TOTP until May 1977, but in comparison insomuch as by this point they'd had a residency at the Nashville Rooms with Strummer's The 101ers and in February had booked the Sex Pistols as tour support only to drop them when at a preliminary gig at the Marquee Lydon smashed up their gear (getting the Pistols their first ever music press coverage, for what it's worth) This was from a live EP and sounds it too, the energy and enthusiasm somewhat stymied by the start of the performance being overlaid with a set design that says less rock'n'roll attitude and more One World Roots Festival 1998 logo and by an audience that don't yet know how to approach this music. Several people attempt some sort of solo jive. Two people with 'RODS' on the back of their jackets, having heard this all before, point at a monitor instead. Barrie Masters, with his migraine-inducing green squiggly jacket over bare chest, has been separated from the rest of his band by a pit full of youths. That band includes a bassist with the logo of the US fanzine Punk on his T-shirt and a drummer pointlessly in just his pants and very long stripy socks. It's not like he'd been sweating the whole night through to that point. Maybe it was his thing. Or he was on a bet. Towards the end the camera definitely, finally runs someone over as it closes in on Masters, swingingly briefly but wildly to the left before crash-zooming in on target. Jimmy then wanders on set, in front of that seperately projected backdrop, a bar too early with the visual effect still on so only his outline can be seen at first, and it's not a pretty outline. "Gonna go to number one, that, as it happens" he confidently predicts. It got to number 43, as it happened.

Twiggy – Here I Go Again
Someone's definitely got into the habit of not cutting Jimmy off when he starts rambling at the end of sentences, just letting him wind down like a Duracell bunny. "And how are all you ladies and gentlemen at home? Very well, we hope. Have a nice time. See you soon. Here's Twig." See you soon? Maybe he anticipated everyone drifting off during this, especially as it's the video with less of a budget than Pops had managed.

The Wurzels – I Am A Cider Drinker
Jimmy Saville surrounded by seamen. Don't. Three of the crew of HMS Daedelus "from the boiling high seas", as he puts it, which suggests he doesn't know that much about the properties of large expanses of water, or for that matter sense as he then calls them "the BBC seas". They don't manage everything, Jimmy. Wonder if the show was recommended by those bored pisstaking sailors in the crowd the other week, and if so what must these three men of the tides have made of the circumstances of the moment at which they had their television break. No sousaphones made their way through this week, so it's rags on sticks all round and collective knee bending. Bizarre as this possibility seems, I wonder if this is an orchestra job - they're definitely re-recorded vocals and the rhythm seems a little flat-footed. We do get the extra bits performed live, though. No samples here.

Lou Rawls – You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine
Haven't mentioned Jimmy's bottom half yet, and for a good reason - it's the smallest pair of red athletic shorts you'll see. You really do fear for shots from anywhere below. Surrounded by people in homemade T-shirts the slogans on which aren't entirely readable - 'MIKE AND MARTYN' something say two - Jimmy has help introducing a real hodge-podge, like Flick had three ideas and just couldn't decide, except that this week it really wouldn't be driven by the lyrics. Stage right, Floyd in a silver reflective suit and matching top hat waves a cane around, another of those short straw efforts he seems to keep being assigned (oh, just you wait for next week). Stage left, three of the girls do the time immemorial ostrich feather routine. Middle front, Cherry and Philip play out a modern morality dance part-trad part-mating ritual, Philip in an entirely car spray silver outfit with cape and hat attached to the top of said cape, Cherry with a toga/throw rug and a huge blue flower in her hair. Although everyone clearly goes through their own fulsome routines throughout it is this pairing that get the bulk of screen time and as you'd expect from that pairing there's an overflow of nods to camera - over the shoulder, little glance, the lot - though at least Philip isn't miming along this week. Jimmy, arm on a girl's shoulder, says "yes indeedy" four times in a row.

Cliff Richard – I Can't Ask For Anything More Than You
An advance in the director's art as we get the first few seconds actually off a studio monitor, later overlays giving the impression of infinite Cliffs. Well, it fills the big black space. It's another staging of the same falsetto-friendly arrangement, Cliff back in his too tight jeans as well as a small medallion. You wouldn't think he'd be the type.

Bay City Rollers – I Only Wanna Be With You
Now Jimmy's sitting down, giving those unsettingly thin pins a full airing. We're pretty much towards the end of Rollermania, with a new bassist sporting huge flares and barrelling through a cover without much due care and attention. Only Les even has tartan on, and that's on his shirt. There's a weird bit where a triangle appears at the top of a long shot of the stage with close-ups of the band members' heads as they work through the break. The orchestra adds an unwarranted triumphalist tone.

Kiki Dee – Loving And Free
How come Jimmy always gets the nurses on? It's established he does a lot of charity work, but that's no excuse to keep dragging on, as here, five ladies from Stoke Mandeville. If ever there was a time we needed orange overalls and awkward dancing it's now as Kiki and her fringe sits on a high stool and sings a light acoustic ballad that reeks of Two Ronnies middle bit.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band – Blinded By The Light
Same as last week. You'd better get used to this song. Oh yeah, IT'S NOT DOUCHE.

ABBA – Dancing Queen
Now Jimmy's surrounded by every female in the audience, some of whom are even listening. Presumably they still hadn't found a full broadcastable version of the video as this is a performance from something called ABBA In Australia (the whole thing is on YouTube). In a triumph of 1976 editing Jimmy is intercut to say goodbye before the end of the first verse and over the start of the chorus rather than a sensible point, given the whole clip goes on to be shown. It's not like people really knew it then as well as we know it now, after all. Costume is credited to 'Nicholas Rocker', who is a man that exists and has a costuming iMDB credit, but it seems presumptious to call that a costume, more something nicked from an athletics store cupboard.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Alternative TOTP Canon #34: REM - Orange Crush

Well, how's Simon Parkin meant to know what it's about? All REM songs were cryptic crosswords in tone around then. An expert team of musicologists are carefully examining this clip frame by frame for evidence of miming and are expected to report back shortly.

Monday, 19 September 2011

The disappeared: 2/9/76

Another of the wipeouts comes next, this one with Diddy David Hamilton in charge, which is interesting for reasons I'll get to.

Pussycat – Mississippi
Unusually, at least so far, this is already in the top 30 and, though we haven't seen it yet in repeat run time, features a rundown shot featuring about as disturbing a shot of the three sisters' faces as could be managed. We'll see this anyway in due course.

Hot Chocolate – Heaven Is On The Back Seat Of My Cadillac
And we've already heard this, with Errol brandishing that mike stand as a weapon.

Tina Charles – Dance Little Lady Dance
And this will be on again too. It's that sort of chart season. It's a bit like I Love To Love and may not be given that sympathetic a reading by the orchestra.

The Real Thing – Can’t Get By Without You
This is on agai...oh, wait, only on another wiped show. Introducing lover's soul to the wah pedal of disco, we can only imagine what new mismatch of clothing is on show here. Well, we'll have to.

Barry Biggs – Work All Day
Biggs' next single is on, but this in context of what we've seen so far might have proved an interesting staging, an early lover's rock hit made for gesticulating with arms outstretched to an uncomfortably shifting audience of girls.

Wings - Let 'Em In
The second half of the show being four videos and a repeat. Did someone else need the studio at short notice?

Jesse Green – Nice And Slow
The repeat, not that there was much to really say about it last time.

Bryan Ferry – The Price Of Love
Jerry and all Bryan's other glamorous friends get another turn.

Rod Stewart – The Killing Of Georgie
And here we come to the true crux. Hamilton had the foresight to keep videoed copies of eleven of his twelve appearances on the show (between January 1976 and March 1977), finding some believed wiped in his archive in recent years and returning them to the BBC as part of one of their occasional appeals. The only such show still missing is this one, and if you ask us that more than likely is due to an incident he talks about now where a record company executive spiked his lunchtime drink and he took about twenty takes at this introduction as he kept calling the song The Killing Of Georgie Fame. The show's official tie-in book says he was sacked from the presenting rota after this. According to actual fact he was back six weeks later and another three times after that before moving to Radio 2 and out of youth culture. THE OFFICIAL BOOK, BBC. YOU HAVE FACTS AT YOUR DISPOSAL SO WHY NOT USE THEM. Here's all six minutes plus of the video, surely not all of which can have been shown. It's not exactly a laugh riot, especially when you know it's based on a true story of a friend of Rod's.

ABBA – Dancing Queen
As mentioned last time, when it entered the chart the BBC seemed to have an incomplete copy of the famous video that cuts the first half of the first verse out. Of the two shows currently on YouTube that cover their number one run the first takes a clip from another source, the second reverts to the proper video. This could be anything. Tommy Hunt's Loving On The Losing Side plays us out.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

TOTP 26/8/76 (tx 15/9/11): prepared loads of material about Can, then BBC4 went and edited it out of the prime time version

And that's despite featuring it in the introductory documentary. I SIGNED THAT PETITION AND THIS IS WHAT THEY DO? What did they consider appropriate?

Noel Edmonds going meta, for starters. Rattling his watch, bemoaning how he might miss Top Of The Pops if we don't get on with it, this is but the start of one of those weeks where his idea of presentation runs to nobody else's wise idea.

Rude reggae man of yore Judge Dread is at 30 with Y Viva Suspenders. We will not be seeing this at any point.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band – Blinded By The Light
No, he doesn't say "revved up like a douche" (it's "duece", as in the common name for the 1932 Ford coupe the Beach Boys popularised. Well, it's a Springsteen song, he'd be nothing without an ostentatious blue collar car to rev) A future radio friendly mini-classic to begin with, and a curious array of men to perform it. Firstly we see Manfred himself, looking about as Dutch as a man can in a half undone sailor top, but that's as nothing compared to singer Chris Thompson. Not only is he sporting long hair in curls and a purple hat with his glasses, but he's accessorised his T-shirt with a multicoloured Colgate stripe across with rainbow coloured braces. It's as if Rod, Jane and Freddy had lost a member to commercial prog. With the drummer stranded right across the far side of the stage from Mann's keyboard set-up about as far as he can go there's never a comfortable all-in camera shot of the whole band, let alone their massive banner which covers the mirror backdrop. Perhaps it was rustled up in a hurry after some of them fell off. The really long vocal fade halfway through seems to briefly confuse the director, pulling back about as far as he can. Noel calls it "accessibly sensible". Rock and roll!

The Bee Gees – You Should Be Dancing
Ruby Flipper, of course, the first of many appearances tonight. It seems someone is trying to make a go of them at the death, especially the whole controversial mixed gender thing, as here we have three of the girls on podiums behind, up front on his own, an attempt by Floyd to assert his own credentials. Obviously having women gyrating bits in turn, Patti especially judging by the regularity of the close-ups of her hot pants, behind him means he's going to be playing second fiddle no matter where he stands, which might explain why his head bobbing, limb flailing turn is so manic, at least three times the speed of the females. Surely nobody choreographed this as much as just wound him up, possibly literally with reference to his tightly wound hair, and let him go. In a couple of weeks he'll be back... no, that would spoil things. The audience repay his energy by sitting down swaying while clapping to a much slower rhythm.

Robin Sarstedt – Let’s Fall In Love
The difficult second single, eh? For this sap beyond reproach Sarstedt has elected to wear the highest waisted trousers known to man and a lothario's slightly opened white shirt. However, he's still Robin Sarstedt, and as such it always seems he's making up in hair volume what he lacks in appeal. The Ladybirds taking off in a different key isn't helping either.

Acker Bilk – Aria
"What a beautiful song, what lovely words" Noel enthuses. Actually, he said it about a song that was edited out, but we doubt he'd have truly meant it in either case as it's just a device for him to go "if you really like lyrics... if you like to see someone singing words and really making them meaningful" and link into an instrumental. Yes, Mr Acker Bilk in the teeth of 1976's family pop roundelay is a very odd thing, especially as it's at funereal pace until joined by the sort of studio strings and drumbeat buskers these days have on a tape playing behind them. Noel is at pains to point out that Acker is "the one with the bowler hat, the one with the white dress was Sydney from Ruby Flipper". Patti, actually, Noel. Unless that was a joke, and if it was that was obscure even by your standards tonight.

The Chi-Lites – You Don’t Have To Go
Making an impromptu video out of 1930s cartoons used to be done quite a bit on the BBC and the Chi-Lites aren't exempt, their storming groove given this one, a Tex Avery no less, in a really ropey print. "Some delightful creatures on that film" Noel marvels.

James & Bobby Purify – Morning Glory
So engrossed is Noel in his concept intro about autumn fashion ("note the see-through jodphurs" he specifies, even though nobody is wearing them) that he forgets to name the song or artist. Finally Ruby Flipper are back to full strength, but Cherry's clearly in the doghouse after her leave of absence as she's pushed out to the side for most of the performance and covered in scarves and sashes even though her costume is as flimsy as those of her female colleagues. One of them manages to land over her face in closeup. Being Cherry, of course there's A Look To Camera, a boggle-eyed one at that. Although clearly enthusiastic to be back under the Colby yoke for a bit she also seems to be a little out of step with the choreographed moments for a lot of the time, and this is Top Of The Pops so they were hardly difficult. The men get shirts and plus-fours of a slightly glittery hue and Philip gets to work his Camp Walking Man schtick with a little bit of Bruce Forsyth Thinker thrown in. He keeps cutting into shot as if he knows the future of mixed sex TOTP dancing is under threat and after Floyd's spectacular affair earlier has to keep his face in the frame.

Cliff Richard – I Can’t Ask For Anything More Than You
Cliff Richard doing falsetto. Once heard, never to be forgotten. He seems to be on a stage of a new design being watched by nobody, which suggests nobody else wanted a part of it either. There's an odd moment towards the end when someone claps five times in quick succession and then stops, and not at a point where it could obviously have been finishing. Flick coaching her charges in the background in the art of simultaneous movement?

Gallagher & Lyle – Breakaway
I'm not going to attempt to transcribe Noel's entire intro here, in which he claims the duo are "more unpleasant than you could ever imagine human being being", because not only does it come from nowhere and have no punchline but he has to go on around the same subject for ages, growing progressively more tiresome than he already was. The restrained adult drivetime duo are the only ones lit at first, apart from a bassist caught in the reflected light, making it look as if they've turned up with a drumkit but no drummer. The secondary keyboard player has a triple decker of boards for no audible reason. Lots of slow pans from a high rostrum camera angle fill things out. Noel pretends to receive a wad of cash a little late in the sentence, and frankly the wrong side of the song, to 'change his mind'. Someone giggles.

Elton John & Kiki Dee – Don’t Go Breaking My Heart
The last time we'll get this (bar Christmas), thank goodness. It's at this point that Noel finds out what command he has over his audience. With Ruby Flipper warming up in front of him, he suggests they can't show the video again only to get shouted down before he's completed his sentence. That's how popular all that fake studio business was back then. Noel extricates himself from that cul-de-sac, just about, with "we want to dance!" Still in their Morning Glory gear Ruby Flipper oblige, paired off into two girls for every man before forming a big kicking chorus line, throughout which Floyd and Philip mime all the lyrics, the latter even when not clearly on camera. The girls meanwhile keep up their fixed rictus grins, except Cherry who appears to be on the verge of collapsing in helpless giggles. The manly men in the crowd have no reaction to the girls in their bras and tight pants right in front of them. In the background Noel is at first awkwardly shape shifting with the best of those around him and later when clearer in shot, though he can't surely have known, attempts to put two seperate girls off their jigging stroke through chat for which Noel still seems to be proffering his dead mike, and he has an arm around the second victim. What business could he be plotting? Whatever it's not immediately obvious as Noel throws from performance to credits by describing a room packed tight with people giving it the full kick-to-the-left-kick-to-the-right as "the retreat from Moscow set to music". The battle of Stalingrad, more like.

EDIT NEWS: Well, Can, as I just said. Editor permitting it should be on again in three shows' time, but you won't then get to see Noel calling them "an absolute wow" or specifying how they've come "a very, very long way indeed" as if they've never had Americans in the studio. Also a Stylistics video in which nobody is sitting down, and which looks like this. Oh, Noel. Noel, Noel, Noel.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Alternative TOTP Canon #33: Sue Wilkinson - You Gotta Be A Hustler If You Wanna Get On

One thread running through a lot of this Canon, and quite a few of the accepted faces of TOTP legend, is oddity or plain being out of place, the sense that should it get a high enough profile or sneak into the upper end of the charts anything could be presented to the prime-time pop kids. Originally titled You Gotta Be A Scrubber... but changed on the advice of the head of Radio 1, the late Wilkinson (she died of cancer in 2005) was a model and actress who had an in-house songwriting job and had worked with Chas Jankel of the Blockheads. This was released on Hendrix's manager Chas Chandler's label and hammered by a Radio 1 DJ - our source forgets which but thinks it may have been DLT. Those are facts. Actuality is something different as even by out of place's standards this represents an enigma, a plainly bizarre entry into the show's catalogue, as the kids would say a WTF. Here we have a monologuist on the verge of a nervous breakdown, a tremendous amount of cynicism only matched by the levels of subtle playing to camera. So many questions. Why is she standing like that? Why has the drummer (Don Powell of Slade, actually) set up a full kit if he only plays shaker and muted cymbal? What's with the ruler twanging on the edge of a table? What are the audience supposed to do for two and a half minutes?

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Got Spotify? Here's a playlist of the best of TOTP '76 so far. It's not everything that's been on, just a kind of extensive Hits So Far including everything I could find that's been played in the studio (including one that's been re-recorded by the singer 'alone', but it really couldn't be left out if we're compiling this thing authoritatively)

Friday, 9 September 2011

Put yourself in the picture: the other lot

To conclude this week's rifling through yellowing copies of Radio Times - and again, big thanks to Steve Williams for locating and typing up all this week's output - something from that RT we began the week on, 30th September 1976. Rod Stewart had the cover to plug a documentary about him on The Lively Arts, and there's also a feature on the new series of Whistle Test, which began on Tuesday at 11.10. This is how proper grown-ups' music was described in the mid-70s:

It's far from old and grey yet, you can't whistle most of the music it broadcasts, but it certainly has passed the test of time and popularity. Pop music's lively television magazine programme, The Old Grey Whistle Test, begins its sixth year this week. The show is still young at heart, serious in purpose, proud of its pioneering and always ready with a few surprises.

Pop music wears so many faces these days, it fairly boggles the ear to define Whistle Test territory. You might call it 'album music' or durable contemporary pop. More ephemeral single hits get their moments on Top of the Pops, while middle-of-the-road music surfaces all around. Whistle Test, however, dwells on what's new and what's classic in serious quality pop.

Fans of the programme run the gamut of age and taste. Letters occasionally arive requesting earlier transmission so that ten year old Algernon can watch Paul McCartney's Wings flap, for instance. Conversely, there's the apocryphal tale of the pensioner who got such a tonic from a Whistle Test gig by Dr Hook and The Medicine Show that he wrote in to enquire if he could get Dr Hook on the National Health.

"We've gone out of our way to make it a music programme on television, not just a television programme with music," said Michael Appleton, Whistle Test's confident 39 year old producer. "Basically my idea is to mix acts and styles to widen the musical specturm of the audience. Of course. it's desigend to entertain, but I'm interested in educating as well. We approach pop as an enduring form of music." Appleton's dark beard was one of three that were bobbing at me at the Whistle Test GHQ at Television Centre, a sort of fall-out shelter surrounded by LPs instead of sandbags. Tom Corcoran, the director, supported a rakish little blonde goatee. The best known beard in the room belonged to the programme's long time presenter, Bob Harris.

In an era when the disc jockey or compere is more likely to 'sock it to you' with decibel overload, 'Whispering' Bob Harris, as he's affectionately called, suggests a country doctor who's just gently reassured you that the baby didn't swallow the weed-killer after all. Son of a former Northampton detective inspector, Bob, who is 30, was briefly a police cadet. He became of of two founding editors of London's Time Out magazine. Somebody at Radio 1 heard his dulcet voice and measured his encyclopaedic knowledge of pop, and he became a DJ, joining Whistle Test regularly on its second series.

Harris and Appleton are particularly proud of boosting new talent. Focus was a blur before the show, a clear success after. Alice Cooper was just on the way up, Babe Ruth was unknown - before they passed their whistle tests. Despite booking a significant roster of established stars, Appleton says, "I prefer new people to big names". Still, musicians at all stages of development have found that the show is a stimulus to their recording sales and general public appreciation.

The forty minute format generally takes two directions. The 'special', when the talent and theatre or studio are available, will become a concert - by the likes of Queen, Chick Coren, Rory Gallagher or Nils Lofgren. The more usual magazine format becomes a survey of what's current and choice in pop/rock/reggae/blues, generally built around a live interview. Harris clearly prefers the filmed interview, with the chance to edit to a high polish, but a live interview can yield some fun best left unedited.

For example, there was the record producer who lost his voice while in colloquy with 'Whispering' Bob - making it one of the quietest interviews in the history of television.

In a field where chaos is the order of the day, how do they plan shows?

Appleton and Harris listen to stacks of albums each week; they fairly eat vinyl for breakfast. While Appleton is in charge of the content, their taste runs in similar channels. Occasionally, Harris has said on camera he's not that overwhelmed with a track or an act, but always in good taste. "He's not a yes man," Appleton says, and he ought to know.

The Whistle Tester were eyeing a big scheduling board for the upcoming series, and there were many blank spaces. Only a special by Janis Ian was set. But there will be field trips to Amsterdam and West Berlin and Macon, Georgia, of all places, to devote shows to the best local talent available. Also in the works is a bit of classic Buddy Holly film, and some clips from a new film by Led Zeppelin. By next May, they hope to do a week of Rock Proms in stereo from an as yey undecided venue.

Whistle Test tries to launch each year with something extra special, like the Edinburgh reggae concert, the 10th Cambridge Festival or the Lennon interview. This year Appleton considered he's got a real treat for fans - Hard Rain, an hour's film of Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue shot in Colorado by NBC and only just shown in the States.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Put yourself in the picture: the 1000th show

For this cutting we go forward in Radio Times time, to 30th April-6th May 1983:

As milestones go, Thursday's celebration of 1000 Top of the Pops will be a bit special. A stereo link with Radio 1 and a parade of stars past and present will honour the longest-running pop show on television. Among the screenful of DJs in charge for the night will be JOHN PEEL. Here he reveals how his attitude to he show has changed over the years.

"Top of the Pops is a national disgrace. All it does is reflect the very worst of popular taste, with no effort being made to present anything remotely progressive or innovative. Anyone who appears on the thing should be ashamed of themselves."

The above, taken from a student newspaper, typifies the ill-tempered invective which has rained down on Top of the Pops over the past nineteen years; surly stuff from critics who neatly sidestep the fact that the programme has never had pretensions to advancing one rod, pole or perch beyond that which its name some unequivocally states.

As Top of the Pops regular Sara Norman remarked in an aside to your correspondent, although she cares for such non-chart bands as Weekend and Everything But The Girl, she doesn't believe they should be on the programme unless they have a hit single.

Producer Michael Hurll goes further. Top of the Pops makes no attempt to set fashions - although others would argue the point - or establish trends, he says. It is, however, "a form of access programme. If viewers buy the records, the artists appear on television. We can change the packaging, we can't change the content."

The content of the very first Top of the Pops, transmitted on New Year's Day 1964, from an unfrocked church in Manchester, hardly required changing. The line-up reads like an archivist's dream. The Beatles' I Want To Hold Your Hand was at number one, and the toothsome foursome appeared on film, as did Cliff Richard and The Shadows. Live in the studio, and miming as prettily as you like, were Dusty Springfield, The Dave Clark Five, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Hollies and The Rolling Stones. The twisting and jitterbugging were in the charge of the Go-Jos, who were eventually to hand over the reins of office to Pan's People, from whom they passed in turn to the shortlived Ruby Flipper and Legs and Co, before coming to rest with Zoo.

Featured disc jockey on that first Top of the Pops was Jimmy Savile, who still surfaces from time to time to present the show. Savile was senior disc jockey when I made my debut on the programme in 1968. Half mad with terror, I forgot the name of Amen Corner and was banished into the outer darkness for 14 years, apart from a brief appearance as a mandolinist with The Faces in 1972.

Nowadays, in tandem with the hunky Canadian David 'Kid' Jensen, I crop up fairly regularly. Kid and I arrive in the studio at 3.30 and we are each handed a thirty-page document detailing every aspect of the impending programme, from the charts themselves to the names of the cheerleads. We seek out Michael Hurll for a brief discussion of the line-up, our roles in the proceedings and the preceding weekend's Football League action, before retiring into a corner to devise and rehearse our lively ad-libs.

At four o'clock we record the chart rundown and the Top Ten Video Show, the latter a recent innovation but already a popular feature of those Tops of the Pops that the Kid and I introduce. Once these have been recorded and approved, the stages are set for a dress rehearsal, something of a trial for Kid and myself, as our prettily-turned quips are usually met with huge indifference by the company, compelling us to retreat to the bar to reconsider our lines.

When we return to the studio the audience has been admitted. Sara Norman and her shipmate Caroline Wooden have, they compute, attended seven editions of Top of the Pops. Caroline enjoys coming to the studio because, as she remarks with engaging frankness, it is free. Also it provides Sara and Caroline with an opportunity to meet the bands whose records they buy. So far they have exchanged pleasantries with Blancmange, Bucks Fizz, Orchestral Manoeuvres, Soft Cell and Duran Duran.

Although the bands and, to a lesser extent, the disc jockeys are the focus of Top of the Pops, it is the cheerleaders who hold the live action together. As Caroline observes, the cheerleaders ensure that no one feels left out; they cajole the audience into dancing and generally create the required atmosphere.

It is not always easy for Kid and me to remember that we are working for the millions watching television, rather than the hundred or so gathered in the studio. Some of the latter, seeing the presenter as the only obstacle between them and a nationwide television debut, work hard at heaving us out of the way and the jostling for position can be pretty tough.

Michael Hurll says that the 1000th Top of the Pops will stick principally to the business of reflecting the week's charts, although about ten minutes of the 50-minute edition will be devoted to clips from earlier programmes. There will be, he concedes, 'a bit of a party atmosphere'. This will also be the first stereo Top of the Pops, with the celebrations being carried simultaneously on Radio 1.

One thousand editions on, Alan Freeman, who introduced the second Top of the Pops, admits that 'the programme is better than ever now'. And that ill-considered quote at the beginning of this article? Why, that was John Peel, interviewed in 1967.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Put yourself in the picture: the DJs

In case you like me were wondering, either side of Peel are Paul Gambaccini (yes) and Tom Browne. A handful were interviewed therein for that special edition, and here are a selection of their thoughts:

Tony Blackburn on who he is
"I think my job is to be artistic in sound. I think I'm painting a portrait in sound. I'm also trying to entertain the audience. My show is what I call U-rated entertainment... something which goes into the home and will not offend anyone at all."

Dave Lee Travis on his role
"My function is to enlighten the listeners by guiding them towards new music which they might not have heard otherwise and, like any other disc jockey or pop star, I'm there to amuse the listeners and be a friend in the home. You can't really do more because it isn't a political thing and it isn't your place to start discussing politics."

Kid Jensen on what he is
"A broadcaster - a communicator, and perhaps a friend. I like to have a lot of fun on the radio... And often when I go on live gigs I feel rather like a politician because, like a politician, a disc jockey obviously has to be liked by people."

Dave Lee Travis on saving lives
"Whenever I have to read a motoring flash, I always try to put a little bit extra into it. If only one person listens to what I say when he's driving along the motorway at 70 miles an hour virtually up the exhaust pipe of the car in front and in the driving rain, and if I have the effect of making him think for a moment how silly he is and thus make him pull back a bit, then it's been worthwhile."

Tony Blackburn on progress
"I think people take popular music too seriously. At the moment everyone's talking about punk rock. That will probably last for another two weeks and then be replaced by something else. But all the time there are a number of good artists, not affected by the trends, who keep on turning out good records year after year."

Dave Lee Travis on not being Bill Grundy
"Punk rock is exciting and good for the entire business. Eighty per cent of it may be rubbish, but the other 20 per cent might be good. And I'm sure that out of punk rock will come some good, new and exciting bands."

Kid Jensen on enlightenment
"I read a lot of Zen, but I would never mention that over the air. I can't impose my own views in that way."

Tony Blackburn on forseeing modern day commercial radio
"If I were in charge of a popular music station I would rotate the same 30 records all day"

Incidentally, these interviews are accompanied by photos of the DJs with pop stars they like and know: Tony and Cliff, Jensen and Linda Lewis, DLT with Hot Chocolate, Patrick Olive in a ridiculous white boiler suit. Annie Nightingale, who I've not included for synchronicity reasons, is with Eric Clapton.

While the big pile of RTs is out, let's focus on the RT Generation Game Christmas Special of 1974, which as well as various games and interviews with Brucie with stuff also includes quizzes, recipes, "Old Took's Almanac", a huge pic of Pan's People with a caption on how they stay in trim ("Dee Dee Wilde 34-24-35, 5ft 5in does The Dirty Dog - good for diaphragm and legs") and a photo shoot with all the Radio 1 DJs, apart from Noel, and their tips for 1975. So that's...

"They fill a slot with the departure of The New Seekers and appeal to both youngsters and their mums. Now the only thing the have to do is get the right song."

They both come from Leicester and were founders of Family which they dissolved so they could develop their own ideas. "I dont like categorising music, it's either good or bad. Chapman Whitney's is good."

A soul group brought up within the sound of Bow Bells. "They've got a nice tight soul sound which is synonymous with the States. You've got to combine visual gimmicks with good sounds and they have both."

The drummer from Traffic who's recently issued a solo album of his own compositions, strongly influenced by what's happening around him. "He's now becoming a commercial musician, writing material for hit songs and is thinking commercially. The business needs solo stars and Jim has the talent to become that."

Bill Nelson who was reforming his band is a blues rock guitarist from Yorkshire with a successful first album behind him. "I've followed his career and given him some fatherly advice. He's a good guitarist, plays with a bit of attack - tearing into a solo like he's been waiting to play. You haven't heard that sound since Hendrix died."

The Mael brothers came over from The States and successfully reformed Sparks. "Musically speaking, they are starting afresh and provide us with a picture which is quite separate from the sound."

A Geordie who started his musical career at 15 backing Billy Fury. Now a solo act, which is highly rated in discos. "John is in the same category as Rod Stewart. He's got a gutsy singing voice and writes and plays most instruments in the musical spectrum. It's only a matter of time." (the picture of Miles is very different from his Music look,
sporting long hair and huge platform boots)

Started in Edinburgh five years ago, most recent hit was Summer Love Sensation. "The Rollers sell colour, personality and freshness. They have a happy sound that people want to watch, listen and dance to."

Once backed Screaming Lord Sutch, now a rock'n'roll band in their own right. "They're one of the tightest rock'n'roll bands in the country. Brilliant! Rock Rebellion's live gigs are fantastic. They have drive, much too good to be passed over."

She started at 16, mostly in cabaret and was the first white lady on the Motown label. She always felt misdirected until Elton John recognised her great soul sound and signed her on. "At last she's been given the chance and the facilitis to develop her enormous talent and potential. She's a natural singer."

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Put yourself in the picture: TV

So what accompanied TOTP on BBC1 Thursday nights in September 1976? Well, with all specific listings corresponding to the 30th (for which the corresponding show won't be on until mid-October, but never mind)...

More adventures of space traveller Astronut and his earthbound pal Oscar
Princess Spindrift by SHEILA MACDONALD
From Blue Peter: Inside The Archives, a complete and comprehensive BP episode guide compiled by former editor Richard Marson published in 2008 and just about still in publication, we know that the series started on the 13th with 'JOHN ON CRUTCHES AFTER GO WITH NOAKES FILMING MISHAP', on Thursday 16th 'WATER SAVING TIPS' (well, it was 1976) sat uneasily alongside 'WOMBLES WEATHER MACHINE + PA "RAINMAKER"', by Monday 27th they were on to 'BBC TEA LEAVES FROM CANTEEN FOR COMPOST', and the 30th offered 'SUB LOO AND PERISCOPE' and 'PENGE JUNIOR LATIN GIRLS TEAM'.

Elegant Spiffy and Messy Fleabag have nothing in common except a habit of falling into the same kind of trouble.
in SklArk
from the Royal School of Artillery, Larkhill. RAYMOND BAXTER, WILLIAM WOOLLARD, MICHAEL RODD and JUDITH HANN look at the prospects for European collaboration on weapons for the rest of the 20th century. Will European countries pull together to achieve more punch per pound, or wore separately to win the battle for lucrative arms exports in a European tug of war? If you were a Middle East defence minister, would you buy British or French missiles? German or British submarines? A German-Italian-British field gun? Or simply buy American?
(This series began on September 16th, preceded by Bellamy's New World)
Introduced by DAVE LEE TRAVIS
RUBY FLIPPER (though this was their last showing in the six-strong lineup)
Musical Director JOHNNY PEARSON; Choreography FLICK COLBY; Sound KEITH GUNN; Associate Producer PHIL BISHOP; Producer BRIAN WHITEHOUSE
Mistaken identity can lead to all sorts of problems, especially if you're Terry.
8.10 KOJAK
Another episode starring TELLY SAVALAS as Police Lieutenant Theo Kojak, a tough cop with a tough job in a tough town - New York.
A frank account of life on the ocean waves in one of Her Majesty's ships. A series of ten programmes.
Incident 4 - On the top of a modern skyscraper block, there is a general falling out of friends. Can John Kline avoid execution at the hands of three gunman? What is the extent of his partner Dermot Macavoy's treachery?
with its nightly look at some of the people and topics that provoke, entertain, worry or interest us. DENIS TUOHY is in the Tonight studio and Tonight's reporters are out and about at home and abroad.
The Day Debate: ROBIN DAY examines an important topical issue with the people involved.
11.25-11.29 WEATHER
JACK SCOTT with prospects for this weekend and October

Meanwhile, BBC2 has Play School and the Labour Party Conference, then Open University between five and seven, and then...

at The Beginning of Life
Throughout the animal kingdom, the creation of new life from an egg and a sperm is a both beautiful and mysterious process. Narrator ERIC THOMPSON
Presented by MICHAEL CHARLTON and CHARLES WHEELER, including every Thursday UK REPORT from BBC news correspondents in Britain, with ROBIN DAY at the Labour Party Conference. Newsreader PETER WOODS.
One year in Heddington, Wiltshire. A documentary serial in eight parts.
The new monthly edition of THE BOOK PROGRAMME in which guest critics review a selection of the month's top titles in conversation with ROBERT ROBINSON. This month's critics are RICHARD HOGGART, GERMAINE GREER and MICHAEL BILLINGTON
11.15 LATE NEWS ON 2
11.25-11.30 CLOSEDOWN


Monday, 5 September 2011

Put yourself in the picture: radio

It's another week off for TOTP on BBC4, which means a week of special content. The Alternative Canon has been put away for the immediate moment, though, in favour of something that might give a rounder picture of TOTP and of BBC music of the time. Comments box regular and Creamguide editor Steve Williams has gone through his back issues of Radio Times to dig out some worthwhile material relating to what we discuss here. First off, as it's something the presenters rarely fail to plug at the end, here's the Radio 1 schedule for the weekdays beginning 27th September:

6.0 As Radio 2
including at 12.30 NEWSBEAT with LAURIE MAYER
2.2 DAVID HAMILTON (Also on Radio 2 VHF)
4.30 IT'S DLT OK!
6.2 As Radio 2
11.0 JOHN PEEL (Also on Radio 2 VHF)
12.0-12.5 As Radio 2

The simulcasting was due to BBC cutbacks the previous year, dropping a lot of live coverage, specialist shows and several DJs, including Stuart Henry and Bob Harris. In Peel terms it was the year of the inaugural Festive 50 and also the year he started finding out about punk - he'd already seen the Pistols live but by this time really only had the first Ramones album, which he'd got hold of in May, to play. Which he did. A lot.

On Saturday:
6.0 As Radio 2
New series - KID JENSEN
Radio 1's new music man with two hours of the best sounds around

The Sutherland Brothers talk to Brian Matthew and choose their 12 favourite records to make up an imaginary album
New series - IT'S ROCK 'N' ROLL
Pure unadulterated rock 'n' roll introduced by STUART COLMAN. This week's studio guests - SHAKIN' STEVENS AND THE SUNSETS and the latest releases are reviewed by GEOFF BARKER.
7.30-12.33 As Radio 2

Emperor Rosko had been presenting that Saturday morning slot but left to return to America due to family illness, necessitating a slight switch round - his show was on til 1pm, then Top 12, then Fluff from 2, then Gambo 5-6.30. Kid Jensen - nickname given by Paul Burnett, apparently, and professionally stuck until he was 31 - had been at Radio Luxembourg since 1968, when he was 18, and was clearly thought highly of at the BBC as he was joined the TOTP roster in November (wiped, unfortunately) Gambaccini had begun his long running US charts rundown a year later. Freeman's brief included classical music. Yeah, the BBC weren't entirely sure what the station was yet.

Colman's story is an interesting one - having been bassist in a band called The Flying Machine who had a Billboard top ten single, in 1976 he jointly organized a march to the BBC protesting about the lack of rock and roll music on the station. The corporation called his bluff and called him in. It's Rock 'N' Roll lasted for three months, playing classic rock'n'roll and live recordings, before being replaced by Alexis Korner's blues and soul show, but a little while later Epic got him to produce his mate Shaky and Colman was at the controls for his initial run of success, including This Ole House, Green Door and Oh Julie. Meanwhile he was extending his brief with slots on BBC Radio London and a weekly Melody Maker column, as well as producing anyone who wanted a 1950s vibe to their songs and eventually the Cliff Richard and the Young Ones Comic Relief version of Living Doll as well as the Mel Smith and Kim Wilde Rocking Around The Christmas Tree.

And on Sunday...

6.55 As Radio 2

Magazine programme of special interest to young listeners introduced by DAVID RIDER and including YOUNG IDEAS IN ACTION
8.32 WALLY WHYTON with JUNIOR CHOICE (Ed Stewart evidently being on holiday)

1.0 The Double Top Ten Show; 2.0 Speakeasy

A magazine programme that takes a close look at the people, events and developments that influence today's pop music, introduced and edited by STUART GRUNDY
6.0 TOM BROWNE with the TOP 20
7.0-12.33 As Radio 2

Playground, as the scheduling suggests, was a show for younger listeners which features Keith Chegwin and Maggie Philbin as sidekicks. Bates had been at the station only since July, moving from, oddly, Radio 2 and taking over from Paul Burnett. Insight is described here as "a series about those with a special interest, e.g. humour, surfing, stars from the midlands."

Thursday, 1 September 2011

TOTP 19/8/76 (tx 1/9/11): the doors of perception

Just to say the usual cut and thrust of the active comments box will have to do without me for a week or so (that's why this is up so early, almost all of it had to be written in advance off YouTube uploads so I could get it up tonight), but for next week's repeat-blank week I've dragged in a regular commenter of televisual archival note to electronically reproduce some excellent written archive material.

It's another Dave Lee Travis conceptual opening, I'm afraid. Using some doors, the purpose of which you'll see later, he opens a door outwards on one half of the screen and says hello to himself coming inwards through the same door on the other half. At least it shows mirror image effects are quickly progressing.

Hot Chocolate – Heaven Is On The Back Seat Of My Cadillac
It's a Brit-funk odyssey with which to begin, and one that at the off uses the changing tones effect we last saw on the 5000 Volts backline on their fabled first appearance. Errol has bought a portable mic stand like Freddie Mercury's and has decided on his own form of outre garments, sporting loads of necklaces and a Olympic medal size-besting medallion as well as a sparkly bolero jacket and silver trousers with the sort of tremendously high waist that we seem to be learning was incredibly fashionable back then. They're not as tight as some have managed, but they're getting there. Well out in front of his bandmates it's already clear that he's being groomed as the face of some interchangeable men. He and most of his band's crazy feet just can't keep still to the rhythm either. Some late fish eye lens work demonstrates... that... the BBC had a fish eye lens and they wanted to use it, but we already knew this from a year of closing credit abuse. Given the vigorous thrusting he's carrying off with it we must just cut away before Errol can consider actively grinding the mike stand. Awkwardly, DLT does his next link from between audience front and stage with a crane shot swooping in from the back of the room, which means we get to see his own unsure bop. He lands his cue perfectly from range, though.

David Dundas – Jeans On
"Hit sound three", a new iteration of the more common "number three sound" line, with "a few young people you may well recognise". Same as we saw last week.

5000 Volts – Dr Kiss Kiss
"I'm very sad to say this record stayed at number eight this week - it's got to go higher next week, it's fantastic!" DLT chides, before delivering the band name in an approximation of Barry White's tone. Amazingly/desperately they actually came into the studio on four seperate occasions even though their box of stagecraft tricks was pretty much up after two. Linda, the Lynn Faulds-Wood of lover's disco, has trousers on. Guitarist Martin Jay, of errant talkbox fame, is sporting an open mustard coloured waistcoat and nothing underneath. It was the times. For the record, as this is where 5000 Volts and TOTP part company after a storied run: Jay later helped out Tight Fit and is now in a corporate entertainment band, his CV listed therein claiming work with Take That, Jason Donovan, Sonia, Michael Ball, David Essex, Cockney Rebel, Buggles, Twiggy, Mike Batt, P J Proby and Bombalurina (Timmy Mallett, then). Sadly Kelly died in 1998.

ABBA – Dancing Queen
A new entry at 26. The video, which surely everyone knows. It's too obvious! There's nothing to be gleaned or learnt from it! Well, except for DLT's outro line, "I'll dedicate that one specially to David Hamilton, he loves that record". Did he? Or is that a 'Queen'-related diss? If so it's not lasted the ages.

Bryan Ferry – The Price Of Love
And still Bryan can't be bothered to come into the studio. He's lost his own pimp tache but not Jerry Hall's attention as she gets to wave a cushion around as other women generally look coquettishly to camera in slow motion.

Wings – Let 'Em In
Here's perhaps the most unrepossessing thing DLT has ever said, and there's plenty of competition.

Ringing the bell apparently caused temporary but virulent seasickness in the mid-70s. Those of you with 42" plasma screen sets, let us all know how that bit came across. There's really too much stuff to discuss in so scattershot an interpretation, the fourth in just this run of Macca-related songs. Still no Cherry (I think we can do away with TOCG if she's not going to be omnipresent and nobody on the show mentions a thing about her exits and forthcoming re-entrance), so everyone's trying to take her crown as expressive ruler. Having made a fine effort last week Lulu seems to be less than convincing (what is she doing at 2:31? Dietrich as a defrocked nun?) and despite Patti's best come-on efforts it seems to be the men making the headway, specifically Philip at 1:18 - a future as a Duncan Norvelle stunt double eluded that lad - and then the sequence starting at 2:33 with implied Dr Hook-style homoeroticism then, after some vigorous arse-waggling, Floyd... well, you tell me, but it might be connected to his 3:05 hustling. Wonder whose insistence the bit just after that came from. A routine for this must have been decided well in advance as I can't imagine those doors were just lying around in a BBC stock cupboard in those designs but there's not that much actual dancing in it. There's some leaning and forearm work, and then about halfway through some fancy walking after which Floyd tries to style it out while heading backwards. Opening and closing doors does not qualify as dancer choreography. DLT says something about a cat flap, perhaps as distressed as the rest of us.

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Here Comes The Sun
After that we needed familiarity, and the video shot on the cloudiest day possible gives us that. DLT makes some gag about needing a security guard around Harley's props, suggesting erroneously that this was somehow made at the BBC's expense when we've just seen what extra levels the LE department can reach given the right musical impetus. "Here comes the rain should be the title of the next one!" DLT ungallantly suggests.

Jesse Green – Nice And Slow
Firstly, flagrancy from the drummer has to be pointed up. He's playing above his hi-hat! It's not at all moving. Green doesn't come across as the most charismatic performer, and when TOTP has played the instrumental version of your song over the end credits last time out maybe you need to be forceful, which may have been why he has a flautist with a droopy moustache standing right next to him. Unusual instrumentation and of its time facial hair is always a winner. The only other detail that can add light and shade to a fairly rote disco makeweight is that Green, who you may also note is the only person making his debut on the repeat run tonight, and 5000 Volts share a Best Of for no connective reason I can work out.

Twiggy – Here I Go Again
DLT is leaning on some bongos as "my knees are going to go weak", apparently because Twiggy has grown her hair. As he then goes on to highlight her "gorgeous voice" he might just be being kind above and beyond. She's changed into a purple dress and red boots and her vocal's been turned up a bit but very little is otherwise different, right down to her placing on the set and the picture montages against lights and second angle shots.

Elton John & Kiki Dee – Don't Go Breaking My Heart
Look, I haven't got much time this week to mess about with this again. Even DLT sounds bored, complaining "do I really need to tell you?" Afterwards is a curiosity, though, as while wearing a glittery hat with elastic under the chin he tells us "there will be a new number one next week". Eh? Without spoilering he couldn't have known whether there would be. Maybe he meant 'may be'. Or maybe he had a touch of the Ortis Deleys. Anyway, the Stylistics' 16 Bars sees us out. Next time out on the 15th there's only one song you'll have seen before on here, and not before time.

EDIT NEWS: Edits within edits, for the most part, as for some reason BBC4 decide to squeeze as much of the whole show on as possible, maybe out of repeat-fuelled boredom. That's surely the only reason they'd keep Steve Harley in again. Oddly, though, Dancing Queen losing half a verse seems to be in the original broadcast, though it's not as if nobody's ever heard it and doesn't know that it comes out of the introductory chorus with "anybody could be that guy". Johnny Wakelin still misses out, though, which is a shame if only for the intro where DLT has two girls on each arm and nearly drags one backwards off the stage as he tells us kids are resultantly rushing out to buy tom-toms. Are they? Are they really?