Saturday, 29 October 2011

Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile OBE KCSG, 1926-2011

Bevin Boy, miner, Mecca ballroom manager and owner, Tour of Britain cyclist, professional wrestler, marathon runner, British Rail and seatbelt safety shill, self-claimed first DJ to operate dual turntables and a mike in 1947, Honorary Chieftain of the Lochaber Highland Games, honorary Royal Marines Commando Green Beret, cigar aficionado, pink Rolls-Royce driver, friend of royalty and Prime Minister, charity fundraiser to the estimated collective tune of more than £40m, fixer, Knight Commander of Saint Gregory the Great, honorary doctor, Knight of Malta, freeman of Scarborough, Radio Luxembourg DJ 1958-1967, Radio 1 DJ 1968-1987, active DJ until 1997 and man synonymous with the greatest chart music show of all. Hosted Top Of The Pops 279 times in all, from the very first to the very last, though his last regular appearance was a one-off in July 1984 and helping The Top Of The Pops Train Special a month afterwards. All this, reader, was his fiefdom.

Friday, 28 October 2011

TOTP 14/10/76 (tx 27/10/11): apocalypse Flipper

Should do open threads every week. But I won't.

What's with David Hamilton climaxing his intro about "number one sounds" with a heroic air punch? And anyway by Blackburn's lore they can't all be number one sounds.

Tavares – Don’t Take Away The Music
And we start with... a video. Would have been weird enough in the video age, here it just makes you wonder who pulled out too late to properly replace. Instead we get a video clip filmed in a right pea-souper of dry ice, Tavares' five members mere shadows in the mist from the opening angle. This despite the light refraction safety consciousness of wearing bolero jackets festooned with sequins. They can't quite decide whether their moves should be synchronised or not, leading to awkward moments where some are spinning and some ski-shuffling. They then approach the mikes a bar early and their shadows can't save them from awkwardness. With their afros those are some shadows too. The lead singer gets to hold his mike. That's how important he is. Diddy sticks his arm out at the end as if they were just across the studio, grin of gratification writ large.

Sherbet – Howzat
Or as Diddy and his starched collars pronounces it, How's Dat. It sounds like he's approximating an Australian accent, though of course it sounds more West Indian. Maybe he's channelling a concerned Pluto Shervington. This is a repeat from two weeks ago, which Diddy still animatedly clicks his fingers to before the beat has started.

Simon May – Summer Of My Life
Someone shouts something unintelligible over the applause, to which Diddy remarks "yes, more indeed". Didn't sound like anything that concise. According to David "it's always nice to welcome a newcomer to the top 30, especially when it's somebody who has written the song that they sing". REAL MUSIC. A pan out reveals Diddy is on a massive platform well above May's piano on the studio floor. It's little man syndrome. Spotting an audience very much in the shade and for the most part watching the monitor instead is more interesting than the Crossroads-originating song (which May's Wiki claims was "one of the best selling singles of the year", which I suppose is true if you count down far enough) which starts as a poor man's Gilbert O'Sullivan until a truck driver's gear change which turns him into a poor man's John Miles. The director has realised it needs spicing up so has wedged Lulu into a blue taffeta dress and got her to twirl round and fling her arms about a bit in overlay. Between times... well, you can see why May largely stayed off screen.

Wild Cherry – Play That Funky Music
Ah, time for Diddy's Tony Blackburn jibe. This time it's a crowbar in for the line "you've got the body of a 20 year old man". You know the rest, but it still gets huge laugh from techs and a decent one from the man who's just told it. So overwhelmed is he he forgets to namecheck the artist. So this is the final fling for Flick's dream of a mixed sex Top Of The Pops dance troupe (until Zoo, but not even their members remember them) and if you didn't know, which is likely given as expected we're given no hints, that Floyd and Philip's days were numbered the fact they're in casual gear and the girls are in nothing more than midriff/bra exposing shawls and dresses slit to constantly expose the stocking tops, and by the three second mark all three females have flashed their knickers at camera, might just give a hint. After an opening which invents vogueing a decade or so before it was ever necessary to do so there's some tight choreography going on on a massive stage. Go on, guess which member the first "play that funky music, white boy" is implicitly addressed to. Ah, you'll miss his boggle eyes to camera, admit it. As for the boys' only dual/solo moment they seem to be re-enacting, of all things, the Tiger Feet shoulder-lean back-other shoulder routine. Floyd does get a lengthy solo, his conditions for being in the mother goose costume presumably still being enacted right at the death. And off they sail into a forgotten status that will befall their unique presence in the show's storied history until a station the existence of which they surely could not have anticipated back then resurrects their entire oeuvre 35 years later. Wonder if they've deigned to watch themselves. "Some fabulous outfits there" Diddy approvingly nods, presumably not of the T-shirts. Or indeed Philip's jacket, which has something written on the back. From freeze frame I can make out 'WHEEL & BRAKE' and half a phone number. A fallback job already set up?

Liverpool Express – Hold Tight
"If you want more music on Top Of The Pops"... well, yeah, that's the idea. Kids must think Liverpool Express were one of the biggest bands of the era. On the set that some say looks like Blockbusters but I reckon looks more like giant Duplo bricks they've come as a slightly seconded Pilot. What the bassist has physically come as in a broad brimmed hat, wide lapelled black jacket with white lining over black shirt and big cream coloured bow tie one can only speculate. The person who's brought their Wolves scarf is keen, at least.

David Essex – Coming Home
"This is Bev and you can all see who Bev likes - who is it, Bev?" Diddy enquires of a girl in big glasses, Rubettes cap and, tellingly, Essex monographed pink scarf. "About to do his new tour" Essex's chirpy charm, aided by a large red with white spots handkerchief rakishly tumbling from his breast pocket and silver musical note brooch on the other lapel, has every effect in the book without resorting to effects thrown at it - fish eye, overlay, picture-in-picture (capturing David in the throes of elbow dancing) turning the lens round, unforgiving extreme close-up. Then at an appropriate moment the director finds a girl singing along to it. The producer threw a lot at the song too, incorporating both sleigh bells and two clarinet solos, both played right down the camera. If only TOTP76 was 3D retrofitted. (FAO BBC: never do this) The player is wearing shades and sports a tache too. Still the song feels like it lasts hours. David Essex and Simon May on the same show. Who'd have thought, so far down the line, there'd be a more direct connection.

J.A.L.N. Band – Disco Music (I Like It)
You'd think such shows would have standard audience waiting list procedure, but along with a bunch of early 30s women surrounding Diddy for his link, two of whom start it by indulging his desire for an arm in arm jig as if he'd been listening all along, are two sailors. What was it with sailors and these links? Had they been waiting around all week just in case? Did Jimmy invite them and they got the dates confused? One of them looks about eleven years old. As the disco funk drops the women get their dance back on while Diddy graduates to pretend clicking with both hands. The Brummies are really not bad at the fat grooves thing either but the attention is taken by their huge scarf-wearing singer's perpetual motion, running back and forth, sometimes on the spot, his bandmates that can move vainly attempting to do so in the style of a good soul revue. It's supposed to get across the restless energy of the genre. Instead it reminds the modern viewer (me, anyway) that Buster Bloodvessel also moves like that, though he was less keen on the jumping from left to right the singer has broken into by the end. Also worth noting is the saxophonist using a break to put in the least effort ever put into playing bongos.

Pussycat – Mississippi
"I'll see you on Radio 1 and Radio 2 tomorrow afternoon" - ah, those were the days - says Diddy before announcing the new number one, receiving a snatched kiss from a woman and reacting with the time honoured swoon and faux-faint. Where would you stage a video for a Dutch country band with harmony female vocals? Yeah, on a paddle steamer, thought so - 'Crazy-BOAT', in fact. To mix the visual metaphors even further cowboy hats and pretend guns are in evidence. The slide guitar player ends up using one of the latter's barrel in close-up. One of the men, presumably the drummer, basically spends the video sitting around looking distant. More interestingly, so far there's been two rundown pictures and two performances by Pussycat and they've had a different look in each. You'll never gain a lasting image that way.

On this day: 28/10/82

Well, hoped you liked this trial period of On This Day onto the blog. If you want to keep up after today, why not follow the Yes It's Number One Twitter account. For now, some audience members give it their best in both moves and dress to keep up with post-Soft Cell makeweights Blue Zoo.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

On this day: 27/10/77

As said the other day, were Darts Showaddywaddy's fault? There must have been some lift-off point for doo-wop and 1950s rock and roll tropes becoming popular. Whatever, Darts had the not so secret weapon of the nuts bass vocalist's nuts bass vocalist Den Hegarty, here taking advantage of the fact Pops literally couldn't fit the pianist on the stage by attempting, albeit hidden largely from our view by the audience, to take the man out himself.

- 1977: Here's some careful and sensitive analysis of political and religious turmoil. Yes, it's Boney M's Belfast.

- 1983: one clip from this has been on here before, King Kurt (not Curtis, Tony) getting tarred and feathered. From the same week, Musical Youth dress as junior wine waiters and cover Desmond Dekker.

- 1988: somewhat missing the point, Tom Jones and the reductive (as in only two of the original five still involved) Art Of Noise take great minimalist pop and maximise it. Of course he gets on the piano. Elsewhere, Milli Vanilli. Miming. Obviously.

- 2000: Blur's last appearance in the original line-up, and Graham Coxon takes the opportunity to break out the deerstalker.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

On this day: 26/10/78

And somewhere in Suffolk, or wherever he was living at the time, a bearded man sobs.

- 1978: interesting show all round, this, as Tony Blackburn uncomfortably introduces a peeved Elvis Costello - note pointed gesticulation - and the revelation of what happens if you make Legs & Co (Patti, Lulu and Pauline at least)'s outfits with only tinsel to hand. Last week I discussed Legs & Co appearing on the 1978 BBC VT Christmas tape, but in 1977 a fuller lineup in oddly Spanish outfits gave Instant Replay a seperate run-through.

- 1995: in case you'd ever wondered, this is Cher's natural hairstyle.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Alternative TOTP Canon #35: Pete Wylie - Sinful

It's John Peel Day, in commemoration of his death seven years ago today. This is the source of his celebrated "break wind in your kitchen" promise/threat (it peaked at 13 but he still didn't), but the never knowingly self-undersold Wylie deserves a look for much more than that. He's brought his own dancers along, The Little Sisters Of The Anfield Road End apparently, and he very much knows where the cameras are.

On this day: 25/10/84

Here's an intriguing team-up - habitual TOTP 'takers' Madness back up Feargal Sharkey on his first solo single Listen To Your Father. Chas Smash had written the song and it was released on their own shortlived Zarjazz label (also home to Suggs and Chas' highly odd 2000AD tribute Mutants In Mega City One by the Fink Brothers)

- 1979: a classic example of a US disco singer giving at all she's got in the face of the orchestra, Viola Wills swings it in her pantaloons.

- 1984: who's the backing singer here, Limahl or the woman who appears to be mixed above him?

- 1990: this is what both chart rundowns and Jason Donovan's show looked like then.

- 1996: a leonine Suede introduced by Steve Lamacq. Again: Steve Lamacq hosting TOTP!

Monday, 24 October 2011

In 1977 I hope I go to TOTP heaven

In case you didn't catch the news, Alexis Petridis tweeted over the weekend that the BBC4 re-run continues into 1977 and a documentary will launch the shebang on New Year's Eve. Of course going on the 1976 launch doc that means it'll be 45 minutes about how rotten the show and all its featured music is during the year and then fifteen minutes covering stuff from other shows, but you can't have everything.

On this day: 24/10/91

How much do you think Vic Reeves wanted to be a rock star on Top Of The Pops? Well, technically, Born Free had already put him there, but with the Wonder Stuff he gets the full rein of the stage. He also forgets a line in the second verse, ends up scrabbling around singing down the washing machines at the back of the set in the mistaken belief one had a camera in and has to fill at the end for an otherwise headbanging Miles Hunt, but these are mere trifles. "I can't keep a straight face" says Dortie afterwards, keeping a straight face.

- 1985: refusing to acknowledge the possibilities of a keyboard stack, Jan Hammer gets the treatment all one man synth artistes got when they weren't very televisual, that is to say some directly related film gets cut into their performance.

- 1991: once the washing machines had been set aside for Vic and co, the rest of the stock from Curry's was given to Carter USM.

- 2003: two confusing, conflicting examples of pop females seeking cred. You'd never have guessed there was a Bond film released two months earlier from Emma Bunton's Maybe; on the other end of the glamour scale comes the great lost reality pop show winner, Alex Parks. It's said nobody (bar friends and family, obviously) knows what Parks, the Ani di Franco-loving Fame Academy winner for whom the descriptive word 'pixieish' seemed obligatory, is up to now, beyond rumours of further education enrolment.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

On this day: 23/10/80

Alright, for the first time in this featured format let's step into the cultured world of Legs & Co. Hands off Pauline, you cornflake brute! And after that, yes of course they were always going to get Ottawan's D.I.S.C.O., but what's the car park theme about? It's not enveloped into the routine, they could have done it on a bare stage for all the movements are affected by their surroundings.

- 1986: a couple here from opposing angles. Firstly the Housemartins, who are apparently playing the same night in Aberdeen. Not a live show that week then, Gary? No idea what tune Paul and Stan are dancing to but it's not Think For A Minute. Then it's Cyndi Lauper, gradually emerging from the gloaming.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

On this day: 22/10/81

Disco medleys had reached an out of control level by the end of 1981. I know what the building blocks of this are, but I still don't quite understand what it's for or who those people are.

- 1987: Was (Not Was) may have got dressed up neatly but they only remember hiring those dancers halfway through.

Friday, 21 October 2011

On this day: 21/10/82

You know the Piranhas' big hit Tom Hark; what you may not recall is Boring Bob Grover and co returned two years with another big band favourite given new lyrics, Lou Busch's Zambesi. With Paul Young's celebrated backing singers The Fabulously Wealth Tarts, a Pete Waterman production and a parrot suit for the drummer they were away.

- 1982: Kool & The Gang believe in strength in numbers, and all in the same Evel Knievel cast-offs.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

TOTP 7/10/76 (tx 20/10/11) open thread

Hello. This is little known Top Of The Pops retro blog Yes It's Number One. We're not here right now, we're about 150 miles away from our computer. If you see a man who seems deprived of fresh air sidling up to strangers and going "...but a month after they joined, you see, Dee Dee decided to retire through injury so they were back down to five with just the one original member left...", do say hello.

Of course, being away on a Thursday presents a huge problem, which is why I'm trading on the success of the comments box community and letting you fill in and make the sarky remarks this week. Using YouTube and assuming they don't put the wrong one on, here's a quick guide to what you can expect **SPOILERS**:

- Jimmy Savile in a Union Jack/Flag coat
- One of T Rex in his pyjamas and Marc in too much eye makeup
- Pussycat looking less scary than their picture suggests
- Rick Dees - on video! Plus the odd clip of becostumed Ruby Flipper as padding
- England Dan and John Ford Coley in a village hall
- Sir Jim with some sailors. Again
- The Detroit Spinners as frantically Flippered
- A huge bloke from BBC Radio Medway
- The Manhattans, of which there isn't that much to say (apart from according to one YouTube upload the band didn't have a copy of the shown video)
- Paul Nicholas' difficult second single, still with the bowler, this time with Sue and Lulu as distraction. Everybody cheerin', nobody steerin'
- a new appearance by Smokie, being amused and gurning in their own ways
- Yeah, ABBA again
- But no Manfred Mann's Earth Band.

Go ahead, then, and I'll see you late Monday or so in the comments and then properly back to recap business next Thursday (with an Alternative Canon in the middle). Also, can anyone in the meantime point to evidence that suggests these will continue into 1977? A lot of people seem convinced it's been confirmed but I don't know of hard say-so.

On this day: 20/10/88

Isn't it embarrassing when your big Interflora order arrives at the wrong time?

A genuinely unlike much else number one single, that. Incidentally the caption meister is wrong, the line in question is "Ross and his dependencies" after engineer Ross Cullum, but indeed at 2:41 is a reference to "Rob Dickins at the wheel". And we know who Rob Dickins later married, don't we? Well, let's not dwell on that for once, especially when we've found he was on Going Live! that same year.

- 1977: as the most cursory of listens will confirm, this isn't the Heroes you're used to. That really doesn't sound like Robert Fripp's effect laden guitar or Eno's synths, whoever's playing piano seems to have been borrowed from the nearest boozer and David hardly seems arsed until he gets to "you will be queen", at which he loses it entirely. From the same week Legs & Co don sports gear, cowboy hat and a lei for, erm, Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft

- 1994: The 1600th show demanded a fitting guest host. What it got was pop's man who wasn't there Jarvis Cocker. He started with his polar opposite Michelle Gayle. Having then had to work through Let Loose, Ultimate Kaos and Tom Jones, by the time he got to Elastica he'd gone a bit mad.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

On this day: 19/10/78

Where does the influence of Showaddywaddy lie? Not in the teddy boy revivalism, which they were never really cut out for, but in the doo-wop mini-revival of the late 70s that brought us Darts, Rocky Sharpe & the Replays and, oh, all the others. Here's the perennial TOTP standbys with Pretty Little Angel Eyes. With superb timing, after 38 years (he was 26 here!) Dave Bartram retired as singer just yesterday. Not unreasonable, given my experience of seeing them over the summer. They've just got a second drummer back as well but Bartram's voice is absolutely shot. By Hey Rock'n'Roll he was positively Norman Collier.

- 1978: Legs & Co, the tree years. Well, how would you interpret Macarthur Park?

- 1989: Debbie Harry's solo career was imbued with the blocky production values of the day, but otherwise she still very much had it, even in khaki. The bear came with the crew.

- 1995: and you thought the recently mentioned Steve Lamacq was an unlikely Top Of The Pops host? Some men suit receding hairlines.

- 2001: an hour long, Savile co-hosted special to mark the show's return to TV Centre. Really, who cares?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

On this day: 18/10/90

A fabled example of when counter-cultures meet the prime-time mainstream, the Happy Mondays' first appearance is more famous largely for who they backed up with (and that'll be coming up here in November) but their slot for Kinky Afro showcases their Northern urchin approach to perfection, basin haircutted Shaun Ryder with hands in pockets, Bez very much plotting his own route.


- 1979: proof that Suzi Quatro didn't need leathers or dance routines, though she could still grapple a bass to within an inch of its life. A fascinating sideline is that at rehearsals she knocked off an inhouse rewrite of that song for VT's Christmas tape, the concept of which must have taken some previous explanation. He's A Sports PA failed to trouble the scorers. (The same year, in fact, as the engineers got to indulge in Legs & Co's take on Nice Legs Shame About The Face)

- 1979: meanwhile the children of Abbey Hey Junior School were doing their worst and there were high knee lifts all round for The Selecter.

- 2002: remember the New Rock Revolution, kids? For highly strung garage rockers The Vines' Craig Nicholls, legibility was other people.

Monday, 17 October 2011

The big list

Just to keep up with the times, nearly five months after our last look let's glimpse at the album chart at the point we've got to, w/e 2/10/76:

1 The Stylistics - Best Of The Stylistics Vol.2
Something you may notice about the top four from this so-called golden age. And this is the second, lesser volume! Just this one week at number one, prompted in part by their writers Hugo & Luigi stealing them away from Thom Bell for their own label and also by Can't Give You Anything (But My Love) going top six months after volume one had been released - it's also got Funky Weekend and Can't Help Falling In Love on.

2 ABBA - Greatest Hits - Abba
Released mid-April, it wouldn't leave the top ten until mid-November.

3 The Beach Boys - 20 Golden Greats
Freshly deposed after all of ten weeks atop, this only came behind the above in the end of year sales chart. Neatly chronological too, so you get the good time surf anthems on side 1 and the teenage symphonies to god on side 2.

4 Diana Ross - Greatest Hits 2
Actually just Greatest Hits but the UK alone had already had one in 1972.

5 Rod Stewart - A Night On The Town
Number one for a couple of weeks before the Beach Boys onslaught and still dodging up and around the list presumably partly due to people thinking the resurgent Sailing would be on it.

6 Bay City Rollers - Dedication
On its way to number four, but that'd be a portent of the tartan end times as it was their first album not to make the top three. Within five weeks the new rhythm guitarist Ian Mitchell would already be out.

7 Neil Sedaka - Laughter And Tears

8 Dr Feelgood - Stupidity
A new entry and it'd go to number one a week later, the first ever live album to make it there so quickly. Brilliant cover shot, telling you all you'd need to know about them at the time.

9 Demis Roussos - Forever And Ever

10 Wings - Wings At The Speed Of Sound

11 Manfred Mann's Earthband - The Roaring Silence
The Chanter sisters credited with backing vocals.

12 Peter Cook & Dudley Moore - Derek And Clive Live

Some very careful skipping round the content there. (And of course Pan's People had been replaced by then, as all involved SHOULD HAVE KNOWN). This was its second week in the top 50 and its highest position.

13 The Eagles - Their Greatest Hits 1971-75
This is the one which ties with Thriller as America's biggest selling album ever, 29 million copies shipped. Here it had spent four weeks at number two but would stay in the top 50 until mid-December 1977, and then would pop in a few more times until 1982.

14 Be-Bop Deluxe - Modern Music
On its way to number 12.

15 John Denver - Spirit

16 Rod Stewart - Atlantic Crossing
Here's the one with Sailing on.

17 Joan Armatrading - Joan Armatrading

18 Peter Frampton - Frampton Comes Alive
Out in May, peaked at 6, spent the rest of the year in the top 40.

19 David Bowie - Changesonebowie
The first proper Bowie compilation, despite not featuring Starman or Life On Mars, which you'd kind of think would be pre-requisites for a 1976 David Bowie compilation.

20 Dr Hook - A Little Bit More

21 Gladys Knight And The Pips - The Best Of Gladys Knight And The Pips

22 Gallagher And Lyle - Breakaway

23 John Denver - Live In London

24 Various Artists - Great Italian Love Songs
Sounds like a cheap compilation that's managed to licence That's Amore; in fact would peak at 17.

25 Daryl Hall And John Oates - Bigger Than Both Of Us

26 Eric Clapton - No Reason To Cry

27 Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak

28 Nana Mouskouri - Passport

29 Roxy Music - Viva Roxy Music

30 Various Artists - Summer Cruising
And just below this lot Bryan Ferry's Let's Stick Together entered at 31 and would peak at 19, while at 32 coming down from a high of 15, the Wurzels' Combine Harvester. Ah, the times.

On this day: 17/10/91

Back in his Radio 1 breakfast days Simon Mayo had a record of relaunching novelty songs into hits - Donald Where's Your Troosers, Kinky Boots - and Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life became the biggest of the lot. It's not clear whether he picked it up from football chants or vice versa, but its surprise success must have been manna to the wiles of Eric Idle, who appeared on the show and laid waste to the studio.

- 1991: It's more difficult than you might have thought to find clips showing Noddy Holder in his full mirrored hat regalia, but by Slade's death rattle (Noddy left the following year) he and his band had become a poor man's Wayne Hussey. FACT: Only Cliff appeared in the TOTP studio more often than Slade.

- 2003: labels are so hard up these days even Kylie has to arrange her own light show.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

TOTP 30/9/76 (tx 13/10/11): Dave wants to hear Demis Roussos

Quick poll - should I migrate the On This TOTP Day feature from Twitter to here? It might get in the way of recaps and such business, but it means I can fill the detail out and pre-schedule a load in advance.

This week's show, then. As we know from when the relevant week's TV listings were featured here it's DLT hosting, and... well, let's save the rest of the preamble for a moment.

Can – I Want More
The anatomy of performance:

0:03 Is he playing us with that pause for digestion - he definitely ends up spitting crumbs out - or has he not thought this concept through? Choose your answer carefully and within knowledge of who we're talking about here.
0:04 Notice that his tank top has 'DLT - RADIO ONE' in the pattern. Someone knitted and sent him that out of goodwill.
0:13 Jeffrey Daniel, surely?
0:17 Must have been some dissolution in the ranks the day that photographer came round.
0:57 So the first thing to point out, apart from how for the unprepared this must be quite a frightening sight, is that isn't actually guitarist Michael Karoli. In fact nobody in the corners of the web that you'd think might know seems to know who it is. It's not Lou Reed either.
0:59 For all the centrally positioned camera time he's about to get because the band probably misled the director at rehearsals he's a bit tentative, whoever he is, he's been given a mike but never uses it. All four proper members are officially credited with backing vocals with no given lead, so it's only fitting.
1:01 Clearly wants to mark his territory, though, I can't recall seeing that prominent an amp before on this run.
1:03 Meanwhile Holger Czukay is wearing the colour of trouser that we well know is very much in this (autumn 1976) season.
1:13 Look, they've even taped a note to his mike stand. Chord charts?
1:22 He's even set 'his' pedal board up.
1:28 So now the director's going to let loose on them, this red saturation effect direct from contemporary Dr Who invasion scenes used when the director gets bored of the men standing a little too far away from each other for single shot comfort, which is often.
1:40 OSTENTATIOUS AMP SETTINGS FIDDLING. Followed by a power chord, just to make sure.
1:49 Are there warnings for the colourblind attached to this? Are there heck.
1:56 First swing towards the crowd, and doubtless the first "what is this?" thought bubble.
1:58 Look at the stage and stop chewing, you.
2:06 A hell of a swinging rostrum camera shot, circumnavigating the front of the stage and those few people who turned up to see this recording five (!) weeks earlier in eight seconds flat. Must have been a specially brought in expert, Ken Morse himself possibly, the regular TOTP team would have decapitated at least four of them trying that. Followed by some frantic work on the camera cuts.
2:44 Now he's positively hokey-cokeying on 'his' pedals.
2:55 The very moment the director realises our guitar hero's not going to be involved and he might have been sold a pup.
3:28 She's easily distracted, isn't she? Watch for the moment of lurking cameraman realisation.
3:39 Intrigued by the odd noises coming from next door to rehearsals for that year's Porridge Christmas special, Richard Beckinsale sneaks in. Watch the girl with Cherry-length hair next to him, she's really freaking out to that funky disco-kraut sound.
3:44 So instead we pan to some newly flashing scenery. The glamour.
3:47 Oh, he's got his eye in now for taking plausibility on his instrument to the limit.

And so, some sort of moment. Had they kept it in the early version first time round you'd have seen Noel tell us "we were going to have them at the beginning of the show but you can't have a Can opener". Five '76 weeks later he gets proven wrong and with some casual viewer-wrongfooting style. DLT, just to seal it, forgets to back-announce them. Maybe there are people confused to this day as to what it was. Or they guessed a name, taken pot luck and bought Tago Mago (someone on Twitter claimed to us to have done so), in which case the best of British to them.

Randy Edelman – Uptown, Uptempo Woman
So why the food-based humour, Dave? "I've been working so 'ard on the show today they haven't given me a lunch break!" You've been working on the show, DLT? What's semi-permanent newish producer Brian Whitehouse been contributing? This, anyway, will be a theme, but not before "a gentleman who's sure to be number one in a few short weeks", again demonstrating the powers of prediction for which the presenters have become legendary - it peaked at 25. Edelman, who gets to play his white piano in the tight round, looks and dresses like Brian Conley's spoof kids' presenter and thinks a wider British audience would be interested in a New York-referencing song about falling in love and then splitting up with a woman of a higher class which doesn't have a punchline, or point, or reason to continue on the same track given it's signalled its final intentions by the halfway mark. The first verse hasn't finished by the time most of those around him have started moving to a much faster tempo in their heads which just looks odd as the rostrum camera circumnavigates the piano lid. Smithers, have Randy Newman killed.

Sherbet – Howzat
DLT's eating a banana. "I've brought this on to mention that when I was a kid I used to enjoy dipping a banana in a certain substance. Now that certain substance is all over the stage behind me." What is he on about? Is it a euphemism made all the more horrible by who's delivering it? So that's your welcome to this country, Australia's Sherbet, with your 10cc pretensions and your song which will be played all the time come the invention of Twenty:20 with its chorus that seems to be in a different key and tempo to the rest of the song. The singer seems to be dressed as a 1970s wrestler in blue ringmaster jacket and plunging neckline waistcoat-cum-unitard, while the drummer has the most elaborate tom-tom setup you'll see. Piled up the side, they are.

The Ritchie Family – The Best Disco In Town
DLT's drinking a capuccino, and obviously has froth on his nose and beard. Sherbet's guitarist is just caught before the lighting change looking across out of equal parts hope and pity. As regular readers may have spotted this is Cherry's last stand and she's being sent off not with the song, which is perhaps the first medley to trouble us duly only that nobody really knew what they were or how to do it so it just sounds like some people chucking phrases in, but with a special costume effort, as in she's the only one permitted a bra top where everyone else is given full coverage. Oh, they knew their audience alright. Flick's drilled them on the routine too, a sparse stage and familiar songs giving a free ride. Not so well off are the costumiers, who've given everyone cream outfits, squaw skirts for the girls, combat trousers for the boys and colour-coded cowboy boots all round but with lots of ribbons, bits of cloth, bits of wool and things you find hanging up in Chinese restaurants attached for no reason other than to fly about and get in the way. Obviously Cherry gets plenty of prominent screen time, including the crucial final solo, but note Floyd's two solo spots, perhaps to make up after all his family and friends saw the previous week's show.

Tina Charles – Dance Little Lady Dance
DLT has a box of chocolates. This "lovely little package" - yes, he goes there - has an absolute unflattering tent of a dress on and an absolute unflattering song to work through, especially when she seems to call her paramour a "cooker". If he is it's the wrong host for his purposes this week. She also looks like a nervous Rebecca Front, but that's by the by. She's certainly not the surest of performers, unlike the orchestra's flautist and wah-wah pedal guitarist, who seem keen to get their union subs this week. Charles, lest we forget, was the original (uncredited) vocalist in 5000 Volts, and indeed despite our woman/men and their errant talkbox most knowledgeable sources suggest that hit was a fluke and they never recovered from Charles' departure. Everything comes back to 5000 Volts round here. It's like a very limited Six Degrees Of Seperation.

Jesse Green – Nice And Slow
DLT has a chicken leg that looks like he had to fish it out from the back of the sofa. "Now they're trying to kill me with a camera!" he moans as the crane comes nowhere near him. This is a repeat of something I had nothing to say about first time, bar the eventual failure of Van McCoy-style disco flute to last the course. Thing is, this is Nice And Slow's fourth appearance on the show plus an instrumental play at the end, so had two not been wiped this frankly nondescript piece of flute-disco fluff would have become as ubiquitous as 5000 Volts. That's odd, as of the songs that have been on the show so often thus far ver Volts had a slow climb and a reputation from I'm On Fire and Mud were a popular band on the show catching the zeitgeist before it fled them forever. This was Green's first hit and while he had a couple more top 30 singles he never really did anything again - this peaked at 17 and is on this week after a surprise one-off rebound to 23. How out of character is this? He's listed on Wiki as 'Jesse Green (reggae music)', which reveals he drummed for the Pioneers (Long Shot Kick De Bucket, Let Your Yeh Be Yeh) and Jimmy Cliff. Strange business all round.

Demis Roussos – When Forever Has Gone
Finally, the punchline. DLT has a full dinner service with wine, grapes, a candle, the works. According to his version of events the BBC for some reason treating him even though he's been wolfing down food and drink all half hour. "Actually, the truth is they're trying to impress our next guest because..." Because he's a great big fat bloke who might have seen the odd full table spread in his time, Dave? Brave given he's in the studio and with not much of an audience this week it's not so far for him to travel and smash your face in for the perceived slight, and we won't be trying to hold him back for more than the radial reasons. "...he's used to all this high flung living". Caught it. What's high flung mean? Demis makes some sort of noise-cum-comment in the background here but we can't catch what exactly it is, especially as it seems to come with reverb. He's doing the service of not looking DLT's way upon being introduced, which must mean something. In his voluminous purple kaftan at one point he's superimposed on shots from above (which seems to be off a mirror, it's not a monitor), from the back and close up from the side. Basically, they're not quite sure how to direct it. His all-embracing posture at the end is one of a thankful man still willing us to take him to our collective hearts. It's at this point that things go so far beyond the pale they may as well come back round and start from the beginning again, as DLT has now donned his own massive purple smock and over the still full layout shouts the dread words "Demis? Come over here, darlin'!" Two men in large beards and large kaftan/robes next to an open candle flame is asking for trouble, or at least a related gag. What we get is the pair of them sharing a glass of "our lovely British plonk, Chateau BBC 1914" - he's Greek, DLT, don't start making oblique jokes and expecting him to comprehend - before, with inevitability aforethought, Dave asks Demis what goodbye is in his native language and then attempts to copy his pronunciation. Demis has the good grace to chuckle.

ABBA – Dancing Queen
Seems a bit of a letdown now, this. It's been number one long enough, for starters. But finally they've found a proper copy of the video, which proves Anni-Frid could do proper moves and choreography if she wanted.

Monday, 10 October 2011

The early days

In the last post I mentioned in passing the shows from early 1976, and presumably some must be wondering why the repeat run began in April. Actually it's not too illogical, or at least not as illogical as the archival procedure - of the first 13 shows of the year seven are missing, three more only exist because of offline recordings David Hamilton found in his archive and had restored very recently, and reputedly one was rescued by a member of one of the bands, and in those four cases it's not generally known whether the full thing is in broadcast quality.

However episode guides survive, and so to take this opportunity to square the year's circle here's a rundown of what went on earlier than BBC4 have been able to let on in that year...

1st January
Actually we can prove this is one of those that survived all along because most of it is on YouTube - part one, part two and part, um, four. The missing element is Abba, oddly, given TOTP recordings of plenty of their other appearances survive and this was just the video. As Jim says several hundred times throughout the nature of the date allows them to give three new bands their TV debuts, Slik being the one that we'd hear more of (and by the way, pop onto Spotify if you can and check out the Best Of Slik that's recently appeared, in particular The Kid's A Punk B-side Slik Shuffle, Midge's own Van McCoy rewrite) Difficult even now to find out more about boogie merchants Bo Flyers apart from the way they made the set worryingly wobble, while Glyder (which, having fallen victim to the Abba censor, can be seen on its own here) surely had too many members for comfortable touring. Two acoustic guitars, bass, electric guitar and mandolin, plus inaudible sax? Come on. If only Billy Howard's King Of The Cops had appeared a bit later in the year, we'd talk about nothing else for weeks. Am I supposed to know who the woman in the elaborate shades is?

8th January
This one exists too and is on YouTube in bitty pieces - this is where that Itchycoo Park comes from, while also around are Tony Christie, R&J Stone (We Do It, from the advert - and to think people who worked on that TOTP2 got paid) and ELO. Also featuring Sailor on their way to number two with Glass Of Champagne, a debut by our old badly dressed friends Sheer Elegance, Barbara Dickson, a bit more of the Bohemian Rhapsody video and Osibisa's Sunshine Day, which we can only hope looked like their Supersonic performance.

15th January
Abba are in the studio, it says here. Apparently it isn't the same as the studio recording for the Christmas show, so that's one short cut ruled out. Also popping by were Mike Oldfield, 10cc (Art For Art's Sake) and the Walker Brothers (No Regrets), while Pan's People did their thing to Barry White's Let The Music Play and the Fatback Band's Do The Bus Stop. What, just stand there?

22nd January
David Hamilton's debut, and of course that means this show exists. Somewhere. He gets a lot of repeats and repeat visits, Slik now at number 12, plus Smokie and Pan's People doing Paul Davidson's Midnight Rider. Bohemian Rhapsody still number one...

29th January
...but not any more! Mamma Mia takes over in a show in which Pan's gets not only December '63 (Oh What A Night) but also, erm, Baby Face by Wing And A Prayer Fife And Drum Corps, which sounds like some sort of marching band equivalent of the Portsmouth Sinfonia but was in fact a studio disco outfit put together by the current musical director on Dancing With The Stars covering a 1926 standard. Kiki Dee pops in to rest her legs too, Cliff Richard and The Sweet debut new songs (Cliff's is Miss You Nights, Sweet's was the last we'd hear of them for two years) and the TOTP Orchestra themselves get an increasingly rare appearance on camera to rework Glenn Miller's Moonlight Serenade, which for some reason was at 26 and would peak at 13.

5th February
Slade's unremittingly weak boogie Let's Call It Quits debuts, and for this year they did. One really interesting appearance is by Be Bop Deluxe with Ships In The Night (here on Whistle Test), with Bill Nelson's unshowy guitar heroics one of the chief connectors between prog and art rock. We'll see them again much later.

12th February
Found as recently as January this year from a Philips N1500 recording uncovered on eBay. Here's a fragment of it, featuring Dollar-spawning sextet Guys & Dolls. The thing this show is famous for is also online, Lesley Judd joining Pan's People as they take on Manuel & The Music Of The Mountains - the then Blue Peter esconsed Judd had been in a pre-Pops troupe for the Dickie Valentine Show in 1966 alongside Flick, Babs and Dee Dee. Otherwise there's new Marmalade and Billy Ocean plus Slik make number one, but look! The Surprise Sisters! One of the early humour resources of the rerun, they had previously enjoyed a number 38 smash with the Andy Fairweather-Low penned, Tony Visconti produced La Booga Rooga.

19th February
After a few weeks of the same old songs on and on again, a good clean wipe this week. The Four Seasons are at number one, while new stuff appears from the Glitter Band, Andy Williams, LJ Johnson, Evelyn Thomas (two Ian Levine discoveries, which doubtless means this wiped show really exists somewhere too), Pluto Shervington, Manhattan Transfer, St Andrews Chorale (who are what their name sounds like, and their Cloud 99 would later in the year be given words and given to Johnny Mathis as When A Child Is Born) and Pan's People dancing to the Who's Squeeze Box.

26th February
Again, a David Hamilton week. Having failed to make the Bus Stop a worldwide smash the Fatback Band were back to try (Do The) Spanish Hustle. CW McCall's Convoy gives DLT ideas, Status Quo pop in, Tina Charles' I Love To Love (But My Baby Loves To Dance) would go to number one a week later and Pan's People get the Stylistics' Funky Weekend. Two months later a new group of dancers would take on the follow-up for starters.

4th March
Paul Burnett's only showing of 1976 just prior to taking over the chart rundown sees Dana, Peters & Lee, disco also-rans The Chequers, Gallagher & Lyle's I Wanna Stay With You and Pan's People Do The Latin Hustle. Also, ahead of Eurovision Brotherhood Of Man showcase the UK entry, so we're getting closer to where we joined in.

11th March
But not so close as quite a few songs that you probably wouldn't know now couldn't make an appearance. There's a lesser T-Rex effort, London Boys, plus Mary Hopkin's shortlived comeback, Chris White, someone called Rainbow Cottage and Pan's get Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes.

18th March
Be Bop Deluxe get repeated fully six weeks after Ships In The Night's first appearance, plus Randy Edelman's version of Concrete And Clay, John Miles gets to go on about Music at length for the first time, David Essex and the Eagles somehow get danced to.

25th March
The Save Your Kisses For Me reign of terror begins plus The Miracles' Night Life, the Tommy version of Elton John's Pinball Wizard, the ever willing Hot Chocolate and Yesterday is given to Flick and her girls. See, even Diddy knows who we're most interested in. And by 1:13-1:20, so does the director.

Friday, 7 October 2011

The Alternative Pan's People Canon: The Chi-Lites - Homely Girl

Another one from the Pan's People back catalogue while we have time to spare, and while the dresses are relatively well known through repeated clippage when such is required they don't spend the whole routine prancing about in them. In fact this fulfils both our immediate requirements: prime Gillespie and a triumph of literalism. Observe the tumbling, vitality filled locks, that alluringly flashed chest, the winning smile... and as for the girls it's a classic of the Plain Jane genre as ugly ducklings (with the aid of screwed up faces, marker pen freckles and the sort of dungareed outfit not to be seen again on the show until the appearance of minor The Real Thing members) turn every so often into baby-doll dress swans. It's a wonder the 'carousel of disenchantment' move never took off in the clubs.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Alternative Pan's People Canon: The Small Faces - Itchycoo Park

There's already been an Alternative Pan's People Canon collection, but given this week's theme there had to be an appendix of something appropriate. Appropriate might be the wrong choice of word for the family element of the show, mind, given Flick seems to have taken the barely hidden subtext of the song, charting in reissued form in early 1976, to her literal heart. Everyone goes for it on some peculiar tangents that start, especially on the first two lines, with patented movements-sticking-to-the-words but soon enough turn into B-movie witch-based schlock. Cherry certainly seems going on the first chorus to have missed her true calling in that regard. That the whole routine is built around a large mushroom in an enchanted setting and was choreographed by a hip American who was just out of her teens around 1967... I'm saying nothing.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Dance dance revelation

If this is a theme week, best have a post every weekday of it. Proving that they were sometimes on shaky ground with rock and roll, quite the inverse of their single's statement, here's a Pan's interpretation of Johnny B Goode from their 1973 Two Ronnies residency.

It's also been noted that Monday was Louise's birthday. Rest assured everyone at this end is gyrating their abdomen while kneeling on some scatter cushions in tribute. (It's also Sue's birthday on Sunday, but I haven't thought of anything for that)

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Ladies' night

Did you catch the passing reference yesterday to the 1974 special Pan's People In Concert? Well, as luck would have it, and yes, this is the show with the much reshown gyrating-to-free-jazz routine...

Difficult to know where to begin, isn't it?

(Previously on Yes It's Number One: Babs on This Is Your Life)

Monday, 3 October 2011

Cherry shake well

One of the things I've been careful with on this blog is not to make too much of the in-house dance troupes. Partly because there's loads about them online anyway going into fulsome and frank detail and much other discussion is of the 'men fancied them but they did stupid routines' postmodern one-liner sense, but it's something you've got to tread carefully round. We know why it happened, maybe we don't appreciate from this distance the late 60s to mid-80s success of specialist dance teams on television from The Young Generation to the Brian Rogers Connection, but there still seems something out of place about reinterpreting someone's carefully honed work in such a choreographed close to studio time fashion. It's natural, though, then when you delve into everything a TOTP offers in detail as this blog has there's things you can't help but notice that turn out to be specific to the given time frame. One thing that seems to have happened as far as Ruby Flipper goes is that one member has been getting the bulk of the good, unembarrassing (cf Young Hearts Run Free) roles, and in doing so earning themselves a not inconsiderable amount of new personal followers and appreciative commenters.

Not for much longer, though. The next TOTP showing next week will also mark the end of... no, not an era, but something. A something that started at Christmas 1972 like this (and moreover, because this clip hasn't got the relevant introduction attached, like this:

Flick called that the worst routine they ever did, by the way, largely due to the volume of those dresses.

While it's Babs or Dee Dee, often Louise too, who usually get dragged out whenever nostalgia TV comes calling, Cherry Gillespie seems from the three and three quarter years she served as a TOTP dancer to have become a totemic presence. Actually that seems to have been the case at the time - it's rumoured she had a clear lead in personal fanmail at their height. Is it the horse's mane length hair? The eyes? The frequently part-bared and constantly toned body? The faces to camera (of which, as I didn't pick up at the time what with being new to this back then, there's an excellent mock-baffled example of 0:31-0:35 into Ruby Flipper's debut) Or all of the above?

It's all of the above.

Flick tried to dissuade her, but Cherry insisted shitting on the dressing room floor was her good luck charm. (pic source)

But then it's also possible to say she was much more than that on the sly, which is why if you discount Babs' globetrotting human endurance feats for their rarefied nature she seems more than her contemporaries to have made something of a go at a showbiz life after Pops. From Hemsby, near Great Yarmouth, she was a ballet school prodigy of whom the Daily Telegraph wrote in 1972 "she seems bound to develop into a major artist". When Andi Rutherford got married and became pregnant she chanced the open audition for her replacement, got a unanimous nod and a couple of months short of 18 years old she became the then fifth girl of the troupe.

The Pan's People Kites range needed some fine tuning

And so a place in televisual dancing history was assured. She was there circumnavigating the dogs for Get Down. When the Monster Mash costumes were being doled out, she became a bat in a curious furry costume with a tellingly balletic routine. She gets a solo in the celebrated 1974 folly Pan's People In Concert.

"...and then I'll get Robin to sack the rest of them!"

And when the Ruby Flipper bandwagon rolled in she became the senior member, being seven months older than Sue. Here's her celebrated solo spot to Misty Blue, which was never discussed here at the time of reshowing because a) it got edited out of the first showing and b) there's not really much you can add.

And then it ended. Well, to be accurate she ended it. It's not entirely clear at this distance why she left early, even less why she had that three week break not long before, but she went on to play Connie in the award winning original West End run of A Chorus Line from January 1977, so maybe rehearsals started around then.

Gillespie may have done more theatre work, and there are suggestions to that end, there's little online record compared to the years of bit parts she got when returning to TV after that run - Casualty, Minder, Blankety Blank (five times), Metal Mickey, Crown Court, Bergerac (which is on YouTube in full - she first turns up 4:55 into part one) and a guest slot with Morecambe & Wise, albeit on one of their lesser 1983 shows for ITV. In addition she's female lead in the video for Dire Straits' Private Investigations and has credits in Octopussy, where she's the titular character's henchwoman, and The Bitch, as 'Disco Girl'. Nothing like stereotyping.

Her major post-Pops TV work came in 1983 as she took third billing behind Wayne Sleep and Bonnie Langford on the BBC dancing roustelay The Hot Shoe Show. Here's a couple of clips of her work there. The song on this got released as a BBC Records single, which was about as successful as the Pan's People 1974 single she takes lead vocals on. According to the uploader the here unseen punchline is the mystery beau is a Boy George-alike.

And here's an ensemble piece chiefly featuring the always delightful sound of middle class white Brits rapping, and especially so when one is Bonnie Langford. Roxanne Shante rests easy in her bed.

With no listed onscreen roles since 1991 we can only assume Cherry subsequently settled down to raise a family with music industry big shot husband Rob Dickins, though she's continued to do voiceovers - here's an example - and in fact can still be hired for such. And if you must know, here's a clip of a Pan's mini-reunion last April at the opening of a Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition of photos by Harry Goodwin. We shall never see her like again. Well, there's not the telly dance troupes any more.