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.


Arthur Nibble said...

And now we see from his mustard trousers why Stylistics lead singer Russell J. Thompson has such a high voice. If Cliff wore those when he sang, only dogs would be able to hear him. Was mustard really the colour to be seen in back in '76? By the way, does anyone else think the short one in The Stylistics looks like Ronnie Corbett?

Gutted about Can being edited out. Sodding gutted! The link before "I Want More" included another great DJ forecast, as Noel predicts another top 30 hit for the male Twiggy, Robin Sarstedt - the song didn't (quite) even make the top 50. We then get a pun about Can possibly making the top tin (ouch) prior to one of the classic TOTP performances featuring a hip robotic Teutonic Manfred Mann and a dude on double bass, the sort of trad jazz instrument that would have accompanied our Acker in his heyday.

I wasn't a fan of "Aria" as it happens (now then now then rattle rattle jewellery jewellery), but my first dance at the wedding reception with the newly crowned Mrs Nibble was "Stranger On The Shore", so old Bernie Bilk gets a thumbs up from me anyway.

Anonymous said...

Both Can an Stylistics on 0000 'repeat'...

Steve Williams said...

Noel's links were cryptic even by his standards this week, but it was all redeemed of course by him being in shot throughout Don't Go Breaking My Heart, which is a brilliant piece of television because it's such a shambles, with the audience looking utterly pissed off (especially the woman right at the start with her arms folded) and Ruby Flipper being in darkness through most of it. At one point the camera appears to bang into Philip, who corpses, and Patti seems already to be losing it big style when she first appears. The only one holding it together is Sue. Who is the best, by the way.

That Bee Gees dance appears to come from the wiped show of two weeks ago, judging by Floyd's unusual hair which he also had during Let 'Em In.

As you say, Chris Thompson has far too much going on with his hair and glasses and hat and beard and braces and badges. My favourite member of Manfred Mann's Earth Band is the bassist who looks like Noel, who always seems a bit embarrassed to be there, self-consciously jigging around during Mann's keyboard wig-outs.

In other news, if you'd missing 5000 Volts, Martin Cohen, the moustachioed bassist, has posted on Missing Episodes!

Angelo Gravity said...

Cherry had an amazingly golden tan ~ where ever she'd been moonlighting it must've been very sunny.

Arthur Nibble said...

Just thought I’d read up a bit about Judge Dread, who was reaching the sunset of his top 30 career at this stage. The first white man to have a hit in Jamaica, and not a lad to be messed with - prior to his music career, he’d been a bouncer, bodyguard, professional wrestler and debt collector!

From memory, Judge Dread was pencilled in to appear on TOTP in 1977. He released an EP which included a completely clean cover version of “End Of The World” and, temptingly poised at number 31, he was going to be allowed to sing this on TOTP the next week if all went to plan. Unfortunately, the EP went down the chart, and that was it.

Back to the shocking editing last night. Instead of omitting Can and The Stylistics, couldn’t BBC4 have cut one of the many Ruby Flipper appearances (technically, four in the same show!) and Sarstedt who was, after all, singing an identikit version of his previous olde worlde hit in a failed attempt to cash in? That was far more shocking to my senses than "Would You Like to See Some Puppies" by Sheer Elegance.

wilberforce said...

what is it with noel's baffling (not to mention irritating) cryptic/surreal schtick? did he do that sort of thing when he was on the radio or was it exclusively reserved for TOTP?

with regard to judge dread's appearance in the charts: i used to listen to the top 40 rundown on radio 1 every week and whenever one of his records appeared, they never played it and also never explained why - so of course in my youthful ignorance i became somewhat curious, and when my chance came i snatched "y viva suspenders" out of the bargain bin just to end the mystery! not only did i find out the reason why it never got played, but i was also introduced to the classic line (on the b-side "confessions of a bouncer") "is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me" (fnarr fnarr!)

as for the acts themselves: what an odd arrangement for "blinded by the light" - the singer starts singing really strongly and then for some strange reason drops out before the first verse, thus rendering it really weedy and directionless - did that happen on the record? (not ever a favourite of mine so i can't remember)...

i'm sure joe public thought one pastiche of the noel coward/flapper era was more than enough, so perhaps not surprisingly robin sarstedt's follow-up flopped (despite being stronger in my opinion) - he does a better job than last time but it's still pretty obvious he's no real crooner... btw, looks like he's raided his mum's jewellery box with that string of pearls!

like arthur i'm surprised they edited can out when it was probably the most interesting thing on the show, but maybe they reasoned anyone interested is already familiar with it, what with it being shown on various BBC4 retro music programmes ad nauseum... i remember me and my chum both liking this, so when he picked a copy of the "ege bamyasi" album for a snip not long after, we listened in eager expectation for more of the same, only to be assaulted by self-indulgent noise! (i think he may still own it, in which case he'd get a lot of money for it now...)

finally, two classic audience moments during "DGBMH" (thankfully at least we didn't have to put up with reg pratting about again): one at the beginning where the girl in white & red dress and cork platforms is standing around with folded arms looking bored shitless, and (even better) at the end of the first chorus - a geezer has somehow got mixed up in the banks of girls surrounding noel, and as they all sway back and forth in unison you can almost hear him thinking "hey, i'm not having any of that - my mates might think i'm some kind of nancy boy!", and resolutely refuses to join in (and as some sort of macho protest actually half-heartedly sways in the opposite direction)...

Noax said...

Maybe it's just because I'm in a funny mood, but I really enjoyed this edition and didn't mind Noel's nonsense.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Best show opener for ages! I love this song, though the performance is a bit blah I suppose.

Robin Sarstedt - Weedy drivel, and must be very short because....

Can - ...I fast forwarded through it so quick that I missed the start of this. On x6 speed they looked like Mud on dress-down day! I bet they *really* enjoyed Noel's hilarious jokes.

Acker Bilk - One of my mates did a University Radio show where he did a segue between EMF and Acker. Until now that was the weirdest juxtaposition I'd ever heard.

Gallagher & Lyle - Noel's introduction was genuinely weird, I wonder if they were great mates and having a laugh or if he'd refused to make their (extremely bland) song 'Breakfast Show Record of the Week' and they'd taken offence

Elton & Kiki - Never has there been a greater number of people in the same place looking miserable, uncomfortable, and reluctant to join in. Throughout the whole thing one image kept popping into my head as well - "You know where? Deptford Draylons. Alright?"

Anonymous said...

Y Viva Suspenders with a solo Sue routine. Now that I'd like to see!

Anonymous said...

@Noax - You should see the "jokes" when Can performed on German TV with the song!

Typical BBC, easily the most edgy band the show has had on to date and they're edited out! An ironic naff agenda here?

Still, gives me the opportunity to ask around to solve the mystery of the missing Michael Karoli, because that was NOT him on guitar on TOTP. If not, who was it?

Any ideas?

Arthur Nibble said...

Don't know, I'm afraid, but two Can-related items of interest (at least to me)...

In this edition, after "I Want More", Noel says the band couldn't have been the first act on the show as we couldn't have had a Can opener (boom boom), so guess where they were positioned for their next TOTP appearance?

Also, the second showing of "I Want More" was a full five weeks after the previous one - the song had moved up the charts stealthily, then gone down for one week, then vaulted nine places into the top 30. Is this the biggest gap between appearances for the same song other than the Christmas editions?

Neil Barker said...

Could the Lou Reed look-a-like on guitar (in Can) have been their live sound mixer Peter Gilmour who also co-wrote "I Want More"? I can't find any photos of him though.

Arthur Nibble said...

Funny how Michael Karoli was on guitar - no bow, mind - and vocals for the performance in that weird German show (Can do comedy??), but he missed TOTP and Irmin and Holgar did the mic miming duties instead.

Simon said...

Nobody seems to know who it is, not even on Cope's Head Heritage forum. Not to spoil the repeat recap, because I will be properly annotating the whole thing then, but I do like how just after the first set of vocals he briefly and ostentatiously twiddles with his amp settings.

Anonymous said...

@Neil Barker.

Could be. He looked a bit like Donovan to me!

Steve Morgan said...

I thought there were a couple of gems in this show.
The opener, Manfred Mann's Earthband, (Blinded By The Light, surely one of the first entrances of a Springsteen song on the UK charts?) was excellent, it was well performed although the audience were dancing to a different beat as ever.
Good to see The Flipper dancing to a Bee Gees song, disco seems to suit Flipper, I thought it was one of their best routines, again though, the audience seemed to be clapping to a different beat.
I'll reserve judgment on the Sarstedt track, needless to say the song was buzzing through my head while in work last night.
The definite highlight of the show was Can, good to see that one, it should have been a bigger hit.
The Stylistics 16 Bars, ( certainly Dean Martin's favourite track) was just a clone of the previous year's number one, I Can't Give You Anything (But My Love. The Stylistics had long passed their best by this time, and the hits were starting to dry up, but there was a better track on the Fabulous album of 1976 that could have been released, Van McCoy's Baby Don't Change Your Mind, it became a huge hit for Gladys Knight and the Pips in early 1977.
Just what on earth was Acker Bilk doing in the charts of 1976? Aria was as dated as they come, the track surely belongs in the early sixties, one wonders what kind of promotion that would have got to get into the charts of '76?
The Chi-Lites and James and Bobby Purify tracks were great, shame they weren't done justice on this show.
Always good to see Cliff, even if I Can't Ask For Anymore Than You isn't my favourite Cliff single, an unprecedented third single from his Nearly Famous album was more than Cliff could ask for. I much preferred the follow up, Hey Mr. Dream Maker, hope that shows up in a later show.
Gallagher and Lyle's Breakaway? Bland as they come, it was the third hit single from the album of the same name, it was covered by Art Garfunkel around this time too, his version's not much different to theirs, thankfully neither hung around the charts for too long.
As much as I love the Elt and Kiki song, it was a change to see the audience "dancing" along with The Flipper, no extended playout though, I would have thought there would have been a few audience shots before the final fadeout.

wilberforce said...

further to above, i checked out the "missing episodes" forum, where the guys on it (and it is always guys) seem more concerned about whether the show has the BBC4 ident symbol ("DOG" for those in the know) on it or not, than the acts or the music... and i thought we were anal retentives!

however it is interesting and encouraging that someone who actually appeared on the show has left some recollections there... hopefully someone else involved back then will one day stumble across this site and do likewise...?

Steve Morgan said...

Ah, yes, that was Martin Cohen one time member of 5000 Volts. It was great reading his memories of recording for the show, and an insight into "contractual" arrangements for the varying singers who fronted the band back then.
As you say hopefully some day some other artist will stumble across this site and do something similar. Recollections from David Dundas or Robin Sarstedt maybe.

Arthur Nibble said...

Or Glamourpuss!

Steve Morgan said...

Glamourpuss! Funniest thing I'd seen on the current repeat runs. Perhaps they'd like to come out from behind those chiffons and give us a little insight into their short foray in the pop world.