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.


Bobby Morrow said...

When the series was launched back in April, there was an article in the Super Soaraway Sun that said should the re-runs be successful there was no reason why it couldn't be shown for the next 30 years! Not exactly concrete but we can hope.

BTY, thought tonight's episode was a bit of a stinker. Paul Nicholas was a particular lowpoint. When it started, I kept expecting the song to be the equally dreadful 'Grandma's Party'. Nicholas was a blonde David Essex wannabe who should have been shot in the head for those 3 singles alone.

Always liked the England Dan & John Ford Coley song. It often turns up on soppy 70's comps. It took me years to work out he was singing 'I'm not talking 'bout moving in'. I always thought it was something about linen!

I'd forgotten how long 'Mississippi' was. How many weeks was it at the top?

Steve Williams said...

Some great videos here, England Dam filmed in a Berni Inn - I thougt I didn't know the song but Ken Bruce plays it a lot, a bit like WOLD by Harry Chapin - and of course Rick Dees. Rick's shirt, and the Zippy-like duck, makes it look like Rick is mounting a knock-off episode of Rainbow in his garage. The picture quality of that video was awful, and God alone knows what Rick was doing in the bits we couldn't see, in the video he was getting stuck for stuff to do during the verses.

I like how Smokie went from the biggest stage last week to the tiniest this, the guitarists were virtually in the audience. Some picture glitches during that and Paul Nicholas, for the first time in this run I think, I dunno where that's been stored.

How come "right this second" hasn't gone down as one of Jim's catchphrases alongside as it happens and the rest, he says it often enough. Amazing to see a correct prediction regarding Pussycat's chart position, albeit courtesy of "The Colonel".

Why do keyboard players in bands in 1976 always seem to have their backs to the audience? The bloke from T Rex was another one.

Vin said...

Noticed Jimmy had an OGWT starkicker badge on at the end. Also, the bloke stood just behind him looked very much like Alf Ramsey. Bizarre.

Steve Morgan said...

Apart from the abysmal Disco Duck I quite enjoyed the show this week. I even found the Paul Nicholas performance bearable, he certainly got the audience moving at least, in fact the audience seemed a bit more animated than usual this week, more than most other weeks anyway where they've seemed most disinterested and can hardly even bother to move out of the way of the cameras.
I thought the Flipper routine was quite good this week too, always loved the Spinners track, it's a great disco track from this period of the movement.
Saville, fortunately, wasn't as annoying as DLT, and it was good to see him apparently enjoying himself, particularly when he surrounded himself with young girls, strapping chaps from Radio Medway, and sailors.

Vintage Reading said...

Even Marc Bolan with his career in decline, manages to wipe the floor with the other performers in this episode.

Legs&Co are wearing the same cowboy boots they wore the week before. Lovely Sue is my favourite.

Why do Smokie always find everything so funny? The singer - can't remember his name - has a great voice, though.

wilberforce said...

at this point marc bolan probably deluded himself wes still as big a (super)star as the likes of bowie, reg and rod, and yet whilst they had long since washed their hands of the show (reg couldn't be bothered to put in an appearance even when he had a number one for six weeks running!), bolan was blagging a spot before even making the top 30, which tells its own story... btw, the guy in the "pyjamas" clowning around is herbie flowers, the legendary session bassist who not only played on hundreds of recordings (many of them hits), but also had success in his own band (blue mink) and co-wrote clive dunn's chart-topping novelty number "grandad". perhaps his most famous work was playing two bass parts on lou reed's "walk on the wild side"... allegedly so he could get double his usual session rate!

has anyone else noticed the preponderance of black american vocal groups in the charts? there are five this week offering the same fare (as epitomised in the manhattans video appearance) i.e. all dressed identically (or at least in a themed manner) with one guy singing lead whilst the others (usually 3 or 4 of them) throw some shapes and do the odd oohs-and-aahs (alongside our very own home-grown contribution to the form the real thing, although a: they didn't throw any shapes and b: they just wore the clothes they happened to have thrown on that morning!)
i liked a lot of black music from this time, but the smooth sound of these guys (and they were nornally guys, gladys knight being a notable exception) usually left me cold. however, going by the sheer numbers (there were armies of them!) they must have been popular... i always used to wonder (and still do) how the backing singers felt about their roles - were any of them embarrassed by their minimal contribution? did any of them hanker for the prized lead role themselves? with a few exceptions (mainly within the temptations) it seemed apparently not. also, how was the money divided up? did the lead get at least as much as the rest put together, or was it dished out equally regardless of contribution? and surely when they went out gigging with a full band it wasn't very cost-effective, even in the 70's... anyway, regardless of what i think of it all it seems in a way they have left their legacy - in the form of boybands ha ha!

i think if you took away the joke lyrics and the donald duck clone, the rick dees track would actually be a credible disco effort - does anyone agree?

i notice in their chart pic one of england dan and john ford coley (i have no idea which is which) is clean-shaven, yet in the video he has decided to emulate his partner's porn-star wrap-around moustache look - no doubt if he's seen that video in these more recent 'tache-free times he's regretted that decision...

if you think "dancing with the captain" is bad, don't forget you've got "grandma's party" to come!

smokie were originally called smokey, and i remember reading in the daily mirror back in those days an announcement that they had changed their name "in respect of the motown legend smokey robinson" - what they really meant was: if they didn't then berry gordy would be sueing the arse off them!

at the end, if you can make any sense of the savile-babble, he appears to be indicating (with a benny-hill-style slap on the head!) that the bob 'oskins alike somewhat incongruously hanging around with the teenage girls is some sort of DJ, but not one i remember - does anyone know who he is? (watch him as he waves his finger around conductor-style as abba start up!)

and finally, the OGWT badge sported by our seamen-loving host was apparently only given to those who performed on the show (sheerly by coincidence i found this out in a book i was reading last week)... so maybe sir jim contributed a progged-up mellotron-heavy take on "ahab the arab"?

wilberforce said...

by the way, just who is this colonel that jimmy mentions after pussycat? colonel parker? colonel sanders? colonel abrams? or maybe it's the late colonel gaddafi...

Nutty Big D said...

Wilferfore is right about Rick Dees, because Robbie Vincent played the instrumental version on his radio show earlier that year.
Vintage Reading - Smokie's lead singer was Chris Norman. In '78 his duet with Suzi Quatro, Stumblin' In, stalled at No 41, so its failure to reach the top 40 meant that the planned follow up didn't happen - the song, Head Over Heels In Love was instead taken into the 40 by Kevin Keegan.
Much later, a contestant on Matthew Kelly's Stars In Their Eyes did a reasonable rendition of I'll Meet You At Midnight, but claimed to be the "late Alan Barton" - he was the Black Lace lead singer who replaced Chris in Smokie in the 80s but sadly died in a road accident. So if ever you hear about all the extensive research done behind the scenes for shows like Stars In Their Eyes, you now know that those claims are highly exaggerated.

Nutty Big D said...

Wilferfore? Where did he come from? As Dennis the Menace said in his early 60's annual, this typewriter can't spell for toffay. Wilberforce!

wilberforce said...

thanks for the correction nutty big d! as a fan of funky disco i remember tuning into robbie vincent's saturday evening show on radio 1 in the late 70's... or rather trying to tune in, as the reception on my transistor radio was absolutely diabolical! however, despite that i still managed to get to hear some gems that i wouldn't have been alerted to otherwise, so thanks robbie...

btw smokie are one of those acts that still plod around the nostalgia circuit today, despite the focal point of the band having jumped ship years ago... god knows what sort of people they attract to their gigs, but i've heard in the case of the animals, they still get big crowds turning up to see them at blues festivals and the like despite the only original member being the drummer (like naming the line-up of the magnificent seven, he's the one that no-one remembers!)

Steve Morgan said...

Looks possible the repeats will continue into '77. I've heard a rumour that a documentary on 1977 is in the process of being recorded this very day.

wilberforce said...

another thing about smokie: although i can't find any evidence as such, i'm sure i remember rightly that on some of their singles, instead of their name being printed on the label in ordinary type they had a specially-designed logo - can anyone else think of other 70's acts who had their own logo on the labels of their 45's?

Wellieman said...

Great news Steve about the likelihood that the repeats will carry on into 77. Not because the music will get much better until The Jam arrive, but because my archive - courtesy of the Einsfestival repeats a couple of years back - is virtually non-existent after Xmas 76.

Arthur Nibble said...

Hi folks. Haven't had time to watch the edition yet (must watch Match of the Day tonight after today's incredible score - hopefully I can revisit TOTP tomorrow night), but I can add an answer of sorts to an rearler question.

A 1970's record label called Ammo had a picture of the artist or the band's logo in a specially reserved space on the label. Their only hit was 'Hey Mama' by Joe Brown which made the top 40. Ammo was a sort of amalgamation of the initials of the surnames of the songwriters who owned the label - Arnold, Martin and Morrow. These chaps were also responsible for writing the best song of the run so far, 'Superman' by Glamourpuss!

wilberforce said...

further to the above, i've done a bit more digging and found proof of the smokie logo on a 45 label - the "s" appears to be a fox-like creature, but i cannot hazzard a guess why... they only used the logo when they were known as "smokey": once they were forced to change the name spelling they then just used the standard fonts...

Adam Maunder said...

Mr. Underhill - you've reminded me: Fox & T-Rex both had logos on a lot of their singles. Hang on - let's see if I can't find proof...

Yeah, here we go:

Sure there are others, but can't think what they might be right now.

wilberforce said...

fox - yes, t.rex - no, i would say it's actually a vanity label rather than a logo (and when it comes to the ego of a certain mr bolan then no surprise there...)

btw, as far as i'm concerned fox are still in the driving seat for best act to appear on TOTP this year - maybe simon should organise some end-of-year awards: best act, worst act, worst singer, best "so-bad-they're-good" act, and so on ((i suspect arthur's faves glamourpuss are in the frame for that last category!)

Arthur Nibble said...

Just remembered that X Ray Spex had their logo on at least a couple of their singles on EMI International.

wilberforce said...

i've just remembered - eddie and the hot rods had a logo on the label when they shortened their name to "rods"...

Arthur Nibble said...

Okay, time for my critique. Be bored, be very, very bored.

When I first saw Marc Bolan on this edition, with his hairstyle and clothing, I had to look twice to make sure he wasn’t actually Frank Sidebottom. He tries his best but, let’s be honest, that song was lame and pony. A real shame to see the lad on the slide.

Excellent value by Jim’ll to mention two chart positions outside the top 30 - T Rex at 42 and Paul Nicholas later on at 49. The lamé lounge lizard was the only DJ who’d give us this prime info.

I used to hate Pussycat but, on reflection, the group’s like a mini-Abba – a band whose first language isn’t English, yet they compose a song with more intricate use of our language than many of our homegrown bands manage. Respect due.

More superb value from Jim’ll when introducing ‘Disco Duck’ - “The classics like it was”. Just brilliant. The Rick Dees video, a Sesame Street on drugs, interspersed with the best outfits Ruby flipper ever had, caused me to laugh out loud heartily – no mean feat after a pisser of a day. I needed that!

Did England Dan and John Ford Coley want to be in the Liverpool back four of the day? The hairsyles and 'taches suggested so. Watch for the manic left hand / almost static right hand style of piano play near the end. A classic example of hit song construction – verse chorus half-size-verse chorus bridge chorus chorus chorus chorus....

Detroit Spinners – no Cherry!!! Floyd possibly wearing the TVC15 jockey cap again? The inspiration for Ginger Spice’s skirt-too-short-to-cover-knickers fashion? Is Sue really doing the Nescafé “w@nker” sign between 16:25 and 16:34?

Why do we get three visions of the fizzog of the Manhattans’ lead singer, each one looking like Rio Ferdinand after that sixth City goal? The Manhattans get my vote for laziest soul ensemble yet – Archie Bell would have knocked them into shape and that’s for sure.

Paul Nicholas, wearing that pesky hat again but donning a T-shirt at least this time, and flanked by two Flippers, but....NO CHERRY!! AGAIN!!!! Unbelievable. Once again PNick sings a song referring to a style of music (last time reggae, this time rock ‘n’roll) and the song sounds nothing like it. Bah!

Smokie – Was Chris Norman laughing because he’d farted? Or maybe he was thinking about the ludicrousness of a bloke from Bradford singing about ‘Universitée’?

Finally, prior to Abba, that’s got to be either the janitor or Joe Dolce’s dad mugging it for all he’s worth in the audience. A bit part in a Carry On film awaits!

Bobby Morrow said...

Don't know why Marc seemed to be going for a Gloria Swanson look. The song was catchy enough, but he'd done far better, of course. In 1977 he released his final album so I expect a couple of performances from that, maybe. What I do remember about his death was although it was a major news event, it didn't affect his record sales at all. Mind you, his final single, 'Celebrate Summer', was pretty grim. 'Summer's not a bummer, it's a stunner' indeed!

Arthur Nibble (again) said...

Another sad Linda Kelly-style casualty which brings it home...England Dan (the standing-up one) passed away two years ago at the age of 61. He got the nickname because of his love of The Beatles and his put-on English accent when he was a teenager. The single got released when a record company exec rejected it, but the boss of a label in the room next door heard it through the wall and offered the lads a deal. It went on to sell 2 million Stateside - nice little earner.

Noax said...

OK, I was also away at the weekend so coming very late to this, it's even dropped off the front page of the website!

T. Rex - Everyone seems to have different opinions on what Marc looks like but I think he looks a little proto-New Romantic. Good job this wasn't a hit then or this clip would have been seen a million times by now.

Pussycat - At last! Not a bad arrangement, if a little weedy, and the guitar is mixed WAY too loud at the start. Still great to see them though as I'd only ever seen the video before.

Rick Dees - If nothing else, at least sourcing the video meant that the rundown pic changed from that odd blur to Rick himself. I did keep expecting Bungle to walk in saying 'We've just been playing with our twangers!' though.

England Dan & John Ford Coley - Always liked this song, and I'm not sure how I didn't notice before that it didn't get much higher than this so I presume we won't see it again.

The Manhattans - Entirely tedious, this. Only worth bothering with at all to let Jimll do his "As it 'appens, here's the Manhattans!" intro.

Paul Nicholas - Unlike most here, I actually like this song, but if the orchestra's rendition of 'Mississippi' was a little lacking, this is positively anaemic. It sounds awful. This is why miming is sometimes a good idea.

Not much else to say, except that Jim was on good form and slightly more comprehensible than usual, except when Bob Todd was on at the end.
While I was in Ireland this weekend just gone I chanced upon a hardback copy of his autobiography called, yes, 'As it 'appens' and didn't buy it only because it was published in 74 and therefore would have missed a fair bit of his life, and also because of a frankly scary picture of "The Duchess" on the back. It was only 5 Euros so if someone tells me it's very rare I shall be quite annoyed.

Simon said...

Finally, my thoughts. The Sherbet picture's already been changed, to one with far less empty space and in which you can see everyone's heads. Maybe they brought a 10-by-8 with them. Acker Bilk *still* in the top ten six weeks after his pre-charting appearance. It's a wonder they never repeated it.

Surely nobody who doesn't know the song could have guessed it was T-Rex until Marc started singing, while he can clearly still strut the suit with big tie and red trousers look isn't what you connect with him and it's pretty pedestrian as the long faded genre of glam goes. There's also some attempt to play with CSO on parts of the backdrop that interferes with the bass design and is really only there because they can rather than having anything to do with it. Jimmy and director clearly end it too early, the organist looks a bit put out.

Jim then introduces Pussycat as being "from way over the seas", following Noel claiming Can had come "a very long way indeed" and DLT foregrounding Demis' jetsetting lifestyle. Given they had American acts on semi-regularly it's funny that they should see Europeans as having come out of their way to appear in the studio. Why doesn't the blonde one get her own mike stand?

My first knowledge of Rick Dees was when he did the American top 40 simulcast across UK commercial radio in the early 90s - indeed Wiki says he's been doing it since 1983 and is heard in over 200 cities worldwide so it may still be on the air somewhere over here. He's on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame! And he's still on air, looking like this. Mr Dees is 61 years old. As for the clip there is some argument that the Ruby Flipper clips should make this Cherry's official farewell, though I'd counteract a) you don't see her face, b) there's no proof it's them in the costumes at all and c) come on, this is how you'd write her out of TOTP history?

Love how Jim manages to dislodge a cymbal in introducing England Dan & John Ford Coley. And then one of the sailors keeps putting his hand on top of the head of his colleague, who's already been dealt the bad hand of looking a bit like Jimmy Hill. As for the Flippers there's a couple of shots in it that make me think that part of the choreography was a deliberate barb by Flick to the producers who had the troupe replaced, which if you don't know the backstory I'll mention in my concise history of their stint next week. What's that graphics backdrop supposed to represent? Strange how it fades to black instead of cutting back to the studio, though that seems to have been on original broadcast.

Plenty to point out about Paul Nicholas, of course, not least questioning his judgement. See, it's alright for the Wombles or Wurzels to frame themselves with bizarre lyrical conceits, they're novelty acts, but Nicholas had come from proper musical theatre and by single two was already laying out a tale in which there's a great big party on a pleasure cruise and, um, that's it. Was he trying to make the bowler a 'thing'? Did the Ladybirds really think they were in keeping with the recording? What about the little runs back to the mike? What of that manic staccato waltz with a possibly unwilling audience member whose face never actually gets properly seen as it's entirely shot on a tilted wide angle? "This is the place if you've got the soul" but "the captain loves to rock and roll" - one or the other, surely? And where does such genre indecision leave reggae?

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

I am very familiar with this Trex song and I love it even though as with most of Marc Bolan's songs the lyrics are meaningless. A great slice of pop that deserved to do better. Marc seems to have jumped past punk and created a proto New Romantic look. He also does a nice bit of Elvis-style posing in the instrumental break. Nice to see Jimmy dancing along in the background.

The bassist Herbie Flowers was already about 8 feet tall, so he shouldn't be wearing vertical stripes. I love the fact that he's making a joke of pointing at the guitarist to tell the cameraman that's it's him playing the intro.

Perhaps Jimmy thought Pussycat were American because the song has a country flavour or perhaps they had just been on tour in Antartica.

I also thought the England Dan and John Ford Coley songs included the lyric "I'm not talking about the linen". Funny how we all sang along regardless.

The Detroit Spinners Rubberband Man, isn't the song actually about cocaine addiction? There's a great clip of them doing this on YouTube where they all dance with giant rubber bands.

I see what Simon means about Ruby Flipper knowing the end was nigh. Those throat cut hand gestures. Naughty Flick. Do you think the short fat guy Jimmy introduces at the end is The Rubberband Man The Spinners are singing about or was he the butler from The Prisoner?

Those sailors fitted in well with Dancing With The Captain. There's method in Jimmy's madness. I like the way Paul Nicholas grabs that poor girl from the crowd and then just dumps her when he's had enough.