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?


Steve Williams said...

Christ, the Chi-Lites are ugly.

I love the title to Heaven's In The Back Seat Of My Cadillac, it's got to be the sleaziest title of all time, and it's not on their Greatest Hits, probably because it wasn't much of a hit. My favourite member of Hot Chocolate is Patrick Olive, the bassist with the moustache who looks like Cleveland Brown, who always seems to be having a whale of a time, I liked his frantic dancing at the end.

This show motored along, good to see they dropped most of Don't Go Breaking My Heart to squeeze in Nice and Slow. Shame Travis' unremovable intro meant we had to get David Daundas again while another new Johnny Wakelin performance was excised, with the guitarist playing the guitar with his teeth.

Vin said...

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

Summer of 1976 - HEATWAVE!!!

ximeremix said...

The bell ringing looks best with the polka dot door!!!

42 inc hes is just enough for the full effect.

Arthur Nibble said...

It’s the return of Stylistics Stool Bloke in the chart rundown!

A high number of top ten hits in this week’s show in comparison to some other weeks’ meagre fare. Talking of numbers...

DLT’s a complete oaf. He introduces Abba at number 26 (actually they’re at 23, Dave, everybody’s favourite ‘Afternoon Delight’ is at 26), then he says we go ten places down the chart (okay, so that’s back down to number 36 by my reckoning) to the sound of Bryan Ferry...who’s further UP the chart, not down, and he’s at number 14, which isn’t a ten place gap on either of Abba’s true or bluff chart positions. Surely DLT should have taken over from Carol Vorderman on ‘Countdown’ instead of that alluring young Gwyneth Paltrow lookalike – erm, no, hang on...

DLT finally gets Ruby Flipper’s name right (just as they’re about to disappear into the sunset), adds an extra ‘s’ to David Dundas to make him sound daft, then gives us another of his great chart predictions (remember his forecast for that Jimmy James song which peaked at 23?). So, 5000 Volts must go higher, eh? This was their second week at number 8 and the following week they were at...number 8, the song’s peak position.

I must admit to feeling a bit sad and maudlin at discovering that Linda Kelly’s no longer with us (no hair munching this week, I see). These programmes take me back to when I was 14 but, of course, I see the performers as they were then, not how they would be now, mostly in their mid-50’s to 60’s if still with us, I reckon. Even Bob Bradbury from Hello’s still gigging – glam rock on a pension, perhaps?

Going back to 500 Volts, anyone else notice the start of the chorus where the bassist (a KwikSave version of Martin Lee) is tentatively thinking ‘Is it my turn to sing on camera?’ then gives us a pout straight after his ‘ah-hah’. That extra touch of class!

‘Let ‘Em In’ was a classic, despite missing that extra special ingredient, what with the Crossroads-style doors about to fall over at any minute - and what had they done to Floyd’s hair? What did he do to become the constant butt of the jokes?

Why hadn’t Twiggy sung in front of a TOTP audience by now? Had she gone all supermodel-like and demanded a solo session, was she afraid of crowded rooms, did she just smell, or had she caught sight of the alarming fashion sense of Jesse Green’s keyboardist and asked to be kept as far away as possible?

wilberforce said...

i'm quite surprised at how many black acts (or at least acts with black people in them) are in the charts this week (in fact half the top 30 if you include the bass player from cockney rebel ha ha)... the reason i say this is because if my school year was anything to go by the singles charts should have been choc-a-block with white hard/heavy rock acts, as that was what most of the boys got off on (i was one of few exceptions who admitted to liking soul and then-emerging disco music) - maybe all their 45's were bought by girls...?

the preponderance of black acts in the charts may be a coincidence, but i noticed that hot chocolate's "whiteys" were shunted to the back of the stage for their appearance, perhaps in an attempt to garner some street cred? "HITBSOMC" is a bit tougher than normal, but like the rest of their output doesn't stand up to closer scrutiny - why they were consistent hitmakers throughout the seventies remains a mystery to me...

i agree with simon that whoever does the edits should always favour new "live in the studio" appearances over promotional videos, even if the performers have already been on before (so johnny wakelin should have been on instead of steve harley!) - hopefully that person will have been handed their cards as a result...?

note in the flipper/wings performance that sue gets at least two chances to step through the doors just as macca mentions "sister suzy" (i think actually his pet name for the lovely linda), and also rather amusingly the boys appear together for "phil and don" (well, they got one right anyway!)... presumably the props department only had red and white paint available (or else the budget didn't allow for any more colours), but maybe the striped colour scheme gave the obviously-talented mrs macca an idea for her "solo" project?

also, i always thought karaoke was invented in japan around the early 90's, however i now realise that it began in 1976 when twiggy appeared on totp...

and finally, someone once joked to me that the stylistics runout track "16 bars" was about a pub-crawl! (well, i thought it was funny anyway...)

Noax said...

DLT - Not exactly dressed for summer is he? I always thought studios were warm but his tank-top suggest otherwise.

Rundown - Bee Gees still about to fight the Red Baron I see. The Quo's picture now more off centre than ever before. Steve Harley's extreme close up is quite distressing!

5000 Volts - I see they go for the camera down the mouth shot again when Linda goes 'WAAARRRGGGH', and just after this she seems to be talking to someone offstage. I bet it was DLT pissing about or blowing her a kiss or something.

ABBA - I've got a TOTP with Diddy on which must be a few weeks down the line where they play the video with the half-verse missing so I can only assume that was the version they always played. I have the ABBA videos DVD but couldn't tell you if that's the *actual* video as this overplayed bingo-wings brigade song is not exactly one of my favourites.

Wings - Was I the only one pleased with this coming up after an Everly Bros song, given that it mentions 'Phil and Don'?

Not sure what was going on with Floyd's hair - possibly a tribute to the miner characters in the 1974 Doctor Who story 'The Monster of Peladon'?

I was also impressed that Johnny Wakelin turned up every week rather than getting them to repeat a performance - nice kimono this week too, better than some of the other fashion choices already mentioned and the ladies in Bryan Ferry's video who seemed to be wearing valances.

Bobby Morrow said...

Hot Chocolate! One of the reasons I never liked them back then was because they ALWAYS seemed to be in the charts. I mean, TOTP has only been screened since April and this is their 3rd charting song! Overkill, guys. That said, it was good to see Errol getting his groove on. I remember he used to be too cool to move much. Of course, the song is pretty dire, and like most HC songs sounds much the same as it's predecessors.

Have to agree with Arthur and say I was sad and more than a little shocked to hear of Linda Kelly's death. Especially as I've made fun of her quite a bit. When you're watching these old shows, it's easy to get lost in the moment and imagine they're current! I've never seen Ruby Flipper since their hey day(?) and this is the way I want to remember them. Ditto Linda. I'd love to think of her still belting out 'Dr Kiss Kiss' somewhere. RIP, my dear. You truly had the best bob of 1976.

I don't normally comment on the Flipper but this performance was so spectacularly awful I was glued. All I can think is that it was the ultimate slap in the face to Macca and Wings by disgruntled TOTP execs pissed off at his/their refusal to appear on the show. I did have the 'Wings At The Speed Of Sound' LP from which LEI is taken. It's truly dreadful with LEI and 'Silly Love Songs' shining like diamonds amongst a batch of tunes written by all the band. Low point? Linda's 'Cook Of The House'. I haven't heard a poorer vocal until...

Mistress Twiggy! Actually, this was a bit better than her first appearance. she got most of the low notes and had remembered to turn on her mike this time. I can't see the reason behind Twiggy's music career. There were loads of excellent female singers in the 70's who didn't sell many records, so why Twigs who was an average vocalist at best? I know she was a former model, but let's be honest, she wasn't that hot, was she?

I bought Abba's 'Dancing Queen' back in that long hot summer. I just know I'll come to hate it in the next few weeks, though. Horrible video. All the group (with the exception of Agnetha, looked at least 45.

Can't understand why a talented songwriter like Bryan Ferry had a solo career comprising of so many covers. Was also a bit worried that Bry was wearing more make-up than all the 'lovelies' in the video put together. With or without the slap, he always looked like Blakey from 'On The Buses' to me.

wilberforce said...

for those not aware of this already, here's the legendary recording that used to do the rounds as a pirate tape before the internet came along,(allegedly) showcasing mrs macca's "talent":

bearing in mind her line of vegetarian foods, it certainly puts a new slant on the old chauvinistic saying "a woman's place is in the kitchen"!

Big D said...

Arthur - I immediately realised that a cut (Wakelin) caused DLT's maths to go wrong - Ferry being ten places lower than Wakelin.

Arthur Nibble said...

Aha! Thanks for that. I take back most of my criticism of DLT (don't know if the splicers could have made the link more intelligible, as you've shown it made no sense in the edited programme), but I'm sure DLT still got Abba's chart position wrong - he did the same a few weeks back with Gallagher and Lyle.

Steve Williams said...

One of the things I liked about Hot Chocolate was how frequently they churned them out. In fact one of my favourite facts is that while they started having hits in 1970, they didn't bother releasing an album until 1974. They truly are the ultimate singles band. Indeed, you just have to look at their album chart positions - all their top ten albums are greatest hits (four of them!) and their highest placed album of original material got to number thirty.

wilberforce said...

perhaps it was no surprise that the home of hot chocolate was RAK Records, which was the ultimate singles label with acts like mud, suzie quatro, smokie, racey, and kim wilde as well as errol and his chums... although they did issue albums from time to time it was almost as an afterthought, and apart from greatest hits compilations i don't think any of them sold in substantial numbers - label owner mickie most was considered one of the sharpest operators in the business, so he must have had a good reason to practically ignore the lucrative albums market...?

i suspect that the sex-appeal of errol brown (i bet he was a big hit in the typing pool!) was much more of a factor in hot chocolate's success than their music - what a masterstroke to shave his head! perhaps no surprise though that they never registered in the states - who needed their watered-down brand of soul over there when they had loads of the good stuff on their doorstep?

btw, i did once pick up the "cicero park" album in the hope of coming across a hitherto-undiscovered funky gem - one track did have shades of blaxploitation about it, but as usual with their stuff it just felt like something was missing...

Arthur Nibble said...

Agreed, RAK were probably the ultimate singles label at that time, and I'd wager Bell and GTO took the other podium places.