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.


Disco Ducks said...

I think it is Floyd in the goose costume, because if you look at its neck you can see a square of see-through material where his face is.

Matra Rancho said...

I'm enjoying the singalong subtitles - for a brief period earlier in the summer they took to describing the style of music ("easy jazz melody" springs to mind. The song it referred to sadly doesn't). Today the "milking" mime in 'Cider Drinker' was subtitled as "IMITATES A MACHINE". And halfway through 'I'll Meet You At Midnight' the subtitler decided the line "under the moonlight" *wasn't* actually "under the moonlight" (due to the awkward stressing of the "der") and changed it to "another moonlight" for the rest of the song.

wilberforce said...

sorry, but smokie are instant fast-forwarding material for me, despite the bassist looking like a hairier version of 70's footballer gerry francis...

that kiki dee really is an odd-looking woman isn't she? that is apart from that juxtaposed pic with reg in the chart rundown where she looks really hot (that sadly we've now probably seen for the last time)...

interesting that in the early 70's rod stewart was seen as a down-to-earth diamond geezer/man's man altenative to the glam brigade with their feather boas and more make-up than max factor, and yet by this point it was clear he was wearing a lot more slap (not to mention shinier trousers) than bowie, bolan, et al... talking of which, when i about 12 (circa 1974) i witnessed a couple of older guys with feathercuts squaring up to each other at school - at first i couldn't understand why as they both looked the same to me (rather like the star trek episode where the enterprise crew are baffled by the antipathy of two seemingly identical aliens with half-white and half-black faces), but aftewards i realised it was because one was a rod-alike and the other was a bowie clone!

finally: if i were a backing member of the drifters performing one of those instantly-forgettable faux-soul numbers written by rogers cook and greenaway (or was it tony macaulay?), i would be thinking "why aren't i the one singing lead? after all i'm neither middle-aged nor chubby, and still have a full head of hair"...

ps - ruby flipper with disco duck was by far and away the best thing on this week...

Vintage Reading said...

Heh. Very witty commentary

Not The Drifters best song, but it does feature the beautiful voice of lead singer Johnny Moore, the longest serving member of The Drifters.

Steve Williams said...

Took me ages to work out which one of The Drifters was the lead singer, it took an age to cut to him.

One of the weaker episodes of the run, this week, and it's a shame we didn't take the week's break this week in a way so we didn't have three very similar shows in a row. Still, at least primetime viewers got to see that member of the audience banging right into the camera during The Wurzles, so that was worth it.

Jiggernormous edit during Blinded By The Light, perhaps sensibly. I see that the Noelalike on bass was wearing the same outfit as last time, and still doing that head-nodding thing during the long keyboard breaks.

Angelo Gravity said...

I've got this weeks show set up ready on iplayer for when my boys get home from school ~ the Wurzels and Disco Duck! They're in for a real treat :-)

Arthur Nibble said...

At last - Can in the top 30! Only a matter of time now, unless there’s an extreme bit of editing next week...

Hey hey, someone’s decided to follow the full suit and waistcoat look of our Noel. Thought Diddy would get there first, mind.

“A nice half-pint of that lovely scrumpy they call cider”? Surely it should be ““A nice half-pint of that lovely cider they call scrumpy”?‘ Acker Bilk would have put Tone right and no mistake. After all, he is from Somerset, and one of those Wurzels is Scottish!

Suddenly worked out after all these years what Rod Stewart reminds me of - that Womble with the mullet. Was it Tomsk?

Leaving the best to last (?), Disco Duck. This song was going to be on the soundtrack to ‘Saturday Night Fever’ but Rick Dees’ agent decided against it, thinking the song would sell more on Dees’ own album. Needless to say, he got binned soon after, though this song sold ridiculously well in the States. Nice to see some prototype audience pogoing near the end – probably making Eddie and the Hot Rods jealous in the process

Arthur Nibble (again) said...

While I'm at it, did anyone else notice how marginalised Cherry is in that dance routine, and not for the first time in recent weeks? For most of the first half of that 'song', she's either end of row furthest from camera or not in close-up shot alongside the other girls. Either she'd had a barney with Flick and Ruth or they were unhappy about her recent absence, which makes me wonder, did Cherry jump or was she pushed?

PS - Johnny Moore of the Drifters...a prototype CeeLo Green, or do I need my eyes tested again?

Simon said...

That's true, and something I suggested in that bit. Obviously without being able to hear from Cherry we'll never know the circumstances of her departure (I've been prepping some future posts about TOTP dance troupes this week and apart from a BBC Pan's People documentary from 1994 and a couple of other snippets she doesn't seem to have talked much about her experiences, certainly not in detail, leaving Babs, Dee Dee and Louise to be the nostalgia face of the operation) and as Ruby Flipper are the overlooked mid-point between the two famous troupes nobody's really talked about timing or opportunity, but she's only seven months older than Sue who is alone in doing the Pan's-Ruby-Legs treble.

Not that I'm obsessed with this routine or anything but I do wonder how they carried it off in front of the audience. There'd have had to be a decent break in filming for the troupe to get into character or the costumed stunt dancers to arrive, and then there's the cuts between Duck Floyd and the rest of ver Flipper.

Anonymous said...

Wilberforce is correct, but time has been kind to Kiki who looks much better now she's in her sixties, and the same I think is even more true of Rod Stewart, whose current age really suits him - very handsome in fact, which was far from the case three and a half decades ago!

Noax said...

Was it me or was the picture quality of this week's edition very good indeed? If so, they must have looked after this one in the archives very well - perhaps it was Tony's excellent intro?

Rundown pictures - Very sultry one of Kiki Dee I thought, she's not just hot in the picture with Reg. Oh, alright, yes I had a crush on her at the age of 4 when these shows were going out. Happy now?
And the scary threesome of Pussycat has been joined by a scary threesome of The Ritchie Family!

Smokie - Very unusually staged in terms of effort this one, perhaps showing off the new set. As I only like one of their songs I can't really comment on the tune much.

The Wurzels - Hooray! (Almost) In full. And a top camera bash to boot. Or rather head.

Kiki Dee - Phwooar!! Sorry. The camera takes an AGE to get to her though. Was it having to trundle over all the comatose girls that had been knocked over earlier? Nice enough song, but it's not Amoureuse. Or Star, but that hadn't been invented yet.

Rod Stewart - This is mental. Rod seems a bit spaced out to begin with, and then the sight of all his baying, swaying minions singing to his godawful song seems to drive him into delerium, so he lies down like some kind of deity, his work done.

Rick Dees - I have seen this before, on various clip shows, but in context it's even funnier. The costume that poor Floyd has to wear looks suspiciously like the one used in 'The Goodies and the Beanstalk'. Which was a goose, not a duck. Some of the more demented looking costumes that surface at the end were used for 'Jungle Rock' way back on Repeat No.1 were they not?
As for how they kept people entertained during the costume changes, surely Tone told some excellent Diddy jokes?

Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Again, well staged although at least one obvious edit. I wonder if they asked nicely if they could do the song right to the end and the producer said 'Yes! If you lose some of the verses so we can edit to time.'

ABBA - Not much to say about this, except for the disappointment that we didn't see Tone doing a bit to camera in one of the gaps like Jim'll did. Perhaps he could have brought the egg back, pretended to lay it and said 'Join us next week as we pop out some more egg-citing (exciting) hits!'.
I'm wasted here.

Bobby Morrow said...

Kiki had the second best bob of 1976. 'Loving And Free' is a sweet tune from her 1973 LP of the same name. No doubt re-released to capitalize on her success with Elt. It was a fair sized hit, too, but after this it was bye bye to Ms Dee (chartwise) until 'Star' in 1981.

It's easy to forget how huge Rod was around this time. Hit after hit for years. Dark times approach, alas, as his 'Do You Think I'm Sexy' look is just around the corner. For this performance of 'Sailing', incidentally featuring the ugliest choir ever put on film, Rod's metrosexual metamorphosis is set in place as he's wearing more make-up than Ruby Flipper combined and 'experimenting' with blonde highlights and 'snug' trousers. I blame Britt Ekland. It'll never last.

The Flipper routine was staggering. I've never paid much attention to the troupe but after the past few weeks I'm really going to miss them. Poor Floyd. Flick must have been a sadist. Wouldn't it be great to have a Flipper reunion picture in 2011? Philip in his mid-50s would be something to see!

Can you believe the Rollers had fallen so far in a year? I suppose they were hoping 'I Only Wanna Be With You' would do for them what 'Bye Bye Baby' did in 1975. It must have been one of poor Ian Mitchell's few TV appearances before the pressure of the band (and possibly Tam Paton!) drove him quietly insane towards the end of the year.

It always troubled me that Frida from Abba obviously considered herself a sexy piece. There's a real glint in her eye in some of these performances. Agnetha, weighed down with trowel loads of blue eye shadow, tried to ignore it and flashed her arse at the camera to divert attention. Weeks left at #1 for this yet and then we get the Frida led 'Money Money Money'. Aah well.

Anonymous said...

The abiding memory for me from this show is the confusion on the faces of Woody, Eric and Ian Mitchell during the horn and string driven instrumental break on I only Want To Be With You.

You can tell they know it's an utter farce as they try to throw some guitar shapes when there is no audible guitar whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

My main thought about the backing choir on "Sailing" was "Don't those flares make some of them look positively triangular!".

Dyonn said...

Rod - snug trousers, facing away from the camera, and then bending over? Do ya think he's sexy?

Wurzels - the guy on the right isn't very good at waving his stick in time, but at least the other 2 got some words/ noises to say this time

Simon said...

Out of interest, how come this post is getting loads of Facebook hits? Has it gone viral?

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

I don't know why The Rollers bothered to make such a boring performance video. I get the impression from their faces that none of them wanted to do this song but were talked into it. And what's with Woody? He was either suffering from a wasting disease at the time or was filmed with a special lens to make him look thinner.

Not entirely sure Kiki Dee is 'live' in the studio. The lack of any visible audience suggests it was prerecorded. I think she looks pretty good in this performance, our art teacher at school used to dress in exactly the same way.

And Rod Stewart, I'm pretty sure this wasn't in the TOTP studio but was taken from a TV special (that certainly wasn't Johnny Person conducting the orchestra). The children doing the arm waving added some innocent charm to a performance from Rod that was unnecessarily sexual (do they really need to see his bum wiggling in tight satin trousers?).

Rick Dees. I'm ashamed to say that I bought this at the time, but hey I was fourteen and it was a very catchy song. I always loved all of Ruby Flipper's routines and this one was particularly memorable as a bit of quirky fun (and even Tone joins in at the end) but no one in the crowd seems to get the joke. Why do they always look so bloody miserable?

Another superb song from The Drifters but the camera does seem confused as to who was singing the lead vocal.

ABBA. I love that little hand gestures the girls do when they sing "You can jive". Never noticed that before.