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."


Arthur Nibble said...

Fascinating stuff. I’d love to have seen the faces of those Radio 2 types tuning into the station, or staying tuned to it after ‘Sing Something Simple’, and catching Peelie’s show. Much clasping of Basildon Bond about to wing its way to the daily Mail!

As for David Jensen, he recently joined Smooth Radio and he’s still referred to as ‘Kid’, even though he’s now 61.

Zaphod Camden said...

Of course, Radio 1 was still on "wonderful" 247 metres in 1976, which wasn't so wonderful after dark, hence a convenient reason for the lack of shows in the evening and for Peel's show being on Radio 2 VHF in the first place :)

Said cutbacks also did away with the 05.00 starts and 02.00 finishes over on Radio 2 as well as several hours of test card fun over on BBC-2, the killjoys!!

wilberforce said...

oh dear, the first sign of the odious simon bates (or "slimy" as i call him) rearing his ugly mug (in a manner of speaking) - mercifully i don't think he did TOTP very often if at all (obviously a face for radio), but if so hopefully the shows he presented are the wiped ones!

Arthur Nibble said...

Slimy Bates is also on Smooth Radio these days (I know this because I detest Chris Moyles, Chris Evans and Johhnny Vaughan and find myself trawling through the other FM stations while commuting on a train which gets a faltering digital signal if it gets one at all).

Bates recently 'bigged up' the latest offering by Beverley Knight - always a bad sign - which turned out to be a pointless, soulless re-working of Jumior's classic 'Mama Used To Say'. Bates accompanies himself with awful wheezing Muttley laughter whenever he says anything he things is funny and, when he has to read the Smooth Radio news headlines, he calls them 'Smooth Heads'. Yuk and double yuk!

Simon said...

Actually, quoting from Popscene here, he did TOTP 78 times between 1979 and 1988.

wilberforce said...

maybe because i find slimy so nauseating i mentally erased him from my memories of watching TOTP, but if our host's sources are correct that means he appears 7 or 8 times a year on average - arrgghhh! hopefully whoever was in charge of all the old tapes also had an intense dislike of the man, and always earmarked his shows for oblivion whenever one had to be wiped... anyway, look on the bright side - if the beeb do pull the plug on these shows at the end of the year, at least it seems i won't have to endure his smug tones and learing countenance!

ps - arthur, i don't know why you bother to listen to the radio at all these days - i gave up years ago...

Arthur Nibble said...

I like to be able to cut the mustard with the kids in the 'hood! Actually, I just find it soothing on the way to and from work. At home, the wife's usually got the DAB tuned to Absolute Radio 80's so I'm used to music in the background, really.

Noax said...

Arthur - I'm with you on the 'having to listen to Smooth as there's bog all else front'.

I've never been a fan of Moyles, and Chris Evans drives me absolutely *insane* with his inability to stop gabbling all over the ends of songs (I'm a bit old school in that respect)

Bates isn't too bad. At least 'The Heads' makes me think of The Day Today and makes me laugh, and Our Tune, however tragic it might be, is still a must listen. I haven't heard Kid Pension on Smooth yet, but I bet he's better at doing old charts than Tone who (sadly, as I expected good things) has disappointed me on Pick of the Pops.

Anyway, these listings - I have no idea who Wally Whyton is. Was he an old school variety (ie not funny) entertainer? And Annie Nightingale at 3 o'clock on Sunday afternoon - yikes!

Arthur Nibble said...

Wally Whyton was a folk singer who got roped into ITV children's television in the 1950's and 1960's, voicing an owl puppet called Ollie Beak (imagine Sage the Owl from 'The Herbs' but with more of a sense of humour).

Anonymous said...

Didn't John Peel's show used to carry over onto Radio 2 on some nights?

Anonymous said...

Annie Nightingale at 3 o'clock on Sunday afternoon - yikes

Wow. Breaks in 1976.

Adam Maunder said...

Whether there are any fellow R&R hounds amongst the comments box massive here I don't know, but I can certainly say that the number of compilations with Stuart Colman's name attached that adorn my shelves must number in the dozens by now.

'It's Rock 'n' Roll' must've sparked off quite the interest, given there were at least 2 LP's on Beeb Records of the finer moments from the show's live sessions. Also around that time were the 3 CBS Rockabilly Classics albums, which turned many on to that sound for the first time.

Nowadays, there seems to be at least 1 CD-set a month coming out under his jurisdiction, mostly from these guys:

To anyone new to this sort of runaround, I would firmly recommend the 'Sugar' series, compiled by Mr. C, which soak up 75 tracks apiece from across U.S. cities, showcasing the hopping and-a bopping to be found emanating from each.

Oh, and judging by the site's front page, it looks like fellow displaced DJ Mark Lamarr is now in the label's employ too, in which case I'm gonna have to go change my trousers, but check out the above if you've a hankering.

Vinnie Jones said...

Re Adam Maunders comments regarding "It's Rock 'n' Roll"...
The show came back the following year (1977) Sept - Dec, then again same months 1978. 1979 was a bumper year from end of January until December then the plug was pulled. For every show five tracks were recorded by the featured artist. These ranged from homegrown talent (Whirlwind, The Jets, Flying Saucers etc) to visiting American legends such as Roy Brown, Jack Scott, Mac Curtis, Charlie Feathers. Although some sessions were repeated in 1979 approx 350 were recorded. The two LPs mentioned covering two apiece from a selection of the artists from the years 1976 and 1977 were released at the time. They have not officially been released on CD (although Lidowne records put them out in mono I believe this year). The only ones to make it to CD are the Carl Perkins ones and "The Pirates". - a veritable treasure trove of unreleased stuff in the BBC vaults.
Stuart Colman lives in NY and continues to produce and as mentioned annotates and compiles CDS plus contributes to Now Dig This magazinee. Geoff Barker has a nice RnR show in the Southwest which can be accessed via BBC listen again website