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.


Arthur Nibble said...

Intriguing having a chart show (and not a 'best of') on New Year's Day. Even more intriguing to see a tie at number 29 - I thought it was a continuity error, but it seems not.

Rainbow Cottage was a band from Wigan. Their top 33 hit 'Seagull' was a wimpy pop ballad sung by a chap who would have been perfect for the 'Cwying' peformance in Only Fools And Horses. A more interesting fact about the band is that they were all left-handed.

Arthur Nibble (again) said...

A pretend blizzard for 'Sunshine Day'. Brilliant! Reminded me of an episode of The Goodies where they appear on a spoof Supersonic. A line in the song goes 'It's just a load of...' then it cuts to the producer saying 'And cue the balls'.

Neil Barker said...

Andy Price, the singer from Glyder, later formed the Pinkees who had a (possibly hyped) top 10 hit with the excellent "Danger Games" in 1982.

I saw the 12/2/76 edition (recorded by a member of Guys & Dolls I think) at the Kaleidoscope event in Stourbridge earlier this year. Great performance by the Walker Brothers. Hope it turns up on Youtube at some point!

The Evelyn Thomas and LJ Johnson performances from 19/2/76 were both on Youtube last time I looked, though Ian Levine has overdubbed them with the original recordings (understandable I suppose as the TOTP orchestra couldn't really handle northern soul, or most other things come to think of it), and has done a bit of re-editing here and there. Apparently Ian has the show in full (well minus the chart rundown) but has no working machine to play it on sadly.

Anonymous said...

Dat by Pluto Shervington. My favourite reggae song of all time. Sorry Bob.

Arthur Nibble said...

Sad anorak fact number 47 – Billy Howard’s bastardisation of ‘King Of The Road’ (on the same quality label as Rainbow Cottage, fact fans) was one of only three non-banned records which had a play skipped on Tom Browne’s classic Sunday night Radio One top 20 chart show. The others were ‘Bionic Santa’ by Chris Hill (still in the top 20 in late January 1977!) and The M&O Band version of ‘Let’s Do The Latin Hustle’, which was banned from the shops after Mr. M & Mr. O allegedly invented sampling by supposedly nicking the backing track to Eddie Drennon’s original and, in June Whitfield Birds Eye chicken pie advert mode, trying to pass it off as home made. In Billy’s case, I think the song was skipped on its supposed last chart show play because it was shite. Did anyone hear of Billy Howard before or after the hit?

Anonymous said...

Arthur, thanks for that info about Billy's song being skipped, I knew about the other 2. Yes indeed he and Abba were joint 29 in the first chart of the year - a shame they weren't joint 30 which would have meant more than 30 pictures to fit in during the countdown!! Another tie coming up just outside the top ten in a couple of weeks which both editions of the Guinness book of Top 40 hits get wrong - Smokie and Real Thing share 11 (the following week Smokie stay at 11, they don't climb from 12). When I bought I'll Meet you at Midnight, I found asking for the new Smokie single a bit of a tongue twister, and found myself asking the assistant for a smoke signal!!

wilberforce said...

i note a very brief sighting of jimmy sadville (no, that's not a typing error!) introducing the 1st of january '76 show alongside the england "john bull" mascot ken baily... that pair really were two peas from the same pod, both being renowned eccentrics and tireless self-publicists despite not having any talent to speak of. also (i say this allegedly as sir jim is still with us) they were both mummy's boys and confirmed bachelors who had an interest in others much younger than themselves, perhaps inevitably attracting scurillous rumours and innuendo as a result.

ken was a familiar figure in his hometown of bournemouth (i once lived there and actually crossed paths with him on a couple of occasions - the first time i was rather shocked to discover he had a pronounced lisp), but really polarised opinion - a classic case of the love/hate relationship he had with the town was when he signed up as the face of one of the two rival bus companies ("ken supports the yellows"), and someone went to the length of not only taking a photo of him boarding a rival bus, but also getting it printed in the local rag!

Nutty Big D said...

Wilberforce, there is a spelling error there because Jimmy only has one L in his surname, so I think it then becomes funnier when adding the "d"!(I'm the anonymous at 13.07 today, but had temporarily forgotten my google sign in password!) )

wilberforce said...

the "d" in my rather obvious corruption of sir jim's surname for satirical purposes (is there a dictionary definition for this kind of thing?) was intentional, but the extra "l" wasn't... however thinking about it, it makes more sense to spell it that way as it is another way of saying a sad town or sad place where sad people live...

regarding arthur's comments on the M&O band stealing eddie drennon's recording of "let's do the latin hustle" (were they the leif eriksons of sampling?), well i never knew about that - i own both versions and up until had thought the M&O band (btw arthur they were two guys with surnames beginning with M & O but i suspect you know that anyway) in the time-honoured tradition were just another UK copycat knock-off of an original US artist, but i obviously wasn't listening that closely!
however, upon using the aural magnifying glass it is my considered opinion that they have taken and used the original track, and overdubbed a few extras such as congas and other percussion and an understated wah-wah guitar (i'll testify to that on the good book m'lud) - the most interesting thing about it is that they've also got some british lady session vocalists (possibly the ladybirds?) to sing over the vocals already there - listen closely and you'll hear them sing "latin" with the emphasis on the "t", as opposed to the original vocals on eddie's version where the american drawl of the word ("ladun") is evident... it is also noteworthy that their version suddenly fades out after only a couple minutes, despite the fact that nothing substantially different happens in the longer original - perhaps messrs M&O thought they would get out while the going was good and no-one would spot their scam!
a couple of other things related to this that might be of interest: there is actually a proper soundalike cover version out there by an act called "year of the dragon" that in my opinion is well worth tracking down (and is probably a UK production as again the girly chorus pronounce "latin" the english way), and the flip of eddie's original version has a similar kind of groove (not to mention a similar title "get down do the latin hustle") that i think is actually better than the a side...

as for billy howard, i have a dim memory of him appearing semi-regularly on the telly around the time of his hit single, but he soon disappeared back to obscurity afterwards - maybe he could only only mimic american cops and 'tecs, in which case he was a real novelty act whose days were numbered... or maybe in the manner that david frost (allegedly) froze simon dee out of the business because he considered one of his kind was enough, mike yarwood also did for billy in a similar manner...?

wilberforce said...

oh yes, my guess is that the blonde-haired pony-tailed woman with the fancy shades who JS claims is his "new year present" (oh yes very likely jimmy) is the "biba" lady (who these days looks like an extra from the "day of the dead" films)...