Friday, 18 November 2011

TOTP 28/10/76 (tx 17/11/11): there's a whole Lalo Schifrin goin' on

Shocking news with which to start this week, as thanks to singer-songwriter and Paul Weller bassist Andy Lewis it turns out the silver mics were more often than not complete fakes (read down the end). I don't know what to believe any more.

Some confusion this week, as BBC sources claim this was screened on 27th October but nowhere seems to back up a move to Wednesday night. Unless of course you know differently. Tony Blackburn in charge this week and he's wearing a blue T-shirt on which is the slogan to end all running gags, 'I HATE DIDDY DAVID HAMILTON'. Now, I doubt this story was well known at the time, but just over a year earlier the future Johnny Rotten was spotted by Bernie Rhodes (who was co-conspirating with Malcolm McLaren at the time) on Kings Road wearing a Pink Floyd T-shirt with 'I HATE' written above the name. The idea, however fleeting, that this may not be mere coincidence opens up fascinating alleyways of thought.The chart rundown is worth noting for Harry Nilsson having a new entry with a pointless reissue of Without You (which we won't see on the show), because a) they've spelt his name 'NILLSON' and b) he looks almost exactly like Bon Iver.

Alan Price – Kissed Away The Night
This is a prosaic way to start, a solo single by the former Animals organist, who for reasons best known to himself is wearing an off-yellow T-shirt with a drawing of Andy Capp in the middle. Must be a northern unity thing. The song aims at being a treatise on community and the working day but gets drawn back by some horribly clunky rhyming. The actual opening verse requires archiving in full:

Overhead morning planes are roaring
Under the bed the dog is snoring
Down the street rolls up (something) taxi
Boy, am I glad I'm not on my jacksie


That's roaring/snoring and taxi/jacksie. Lord preserve us. To make matters worse during that last line he delivers a look to his band that equally says "I can't believe I'm being allowed to say the word I'm about to say" and "look at me about to use a very mild curse!" The performance never quite recovers. Tony, duly impressed, looks into the wrong camera and then calls it Kiss Away The Mild Nights. He then remembers to suggest we get a pencil and paper. Actually, Tony, a postcard would be more immediately helpful than paper.

Chicago – If You Leave Me Now
"Doing so well in the charts at the moment" Tony somewhat pointlessly adds. This is the plain studio shot performance video about which little can be said except for noting Peter Cetera's hair, as long and lustrous as on any Head & Shoulders model.

Leo Sayer – You Make Me Feel Like Dancing
But first, comedy. Tony chooses this moment to point out his T-shirt slogan, at which Diddy himself creeps out from behind him in an 'I HATE TONY BLACKBURN' T-shirt. It's a battle for hearts and minds alright. They exchange some light remarks about "the new look for 1977" before indulging in a swift shuffle on the fade into the clip, Diddy with the broadest shit eating grin on his face. Difficult to tell whether this is the video or a specially shot piece, but the presence of a shadowed mike might be a clue even if there is no audience in sight. Sayer begins in silhouette like the start of Bohemian Rhapsody, of which this might be a polar opposite of a song. After that he and his yellow cardigan gets shot in mirror image then standing in the middle of what seems to be a huge soundstage, nobody else visible even when carefully peering into the dark. As for the title he may feel it but doing it is another matter, unless some sort of knee bending or twitching like Alf Ippititimus counts. Then there's a cut back to him with some frantic backlighting, which is what passed for excitement then.

Joan Armatrading – Love And Affection
Now faced with the prospect of jazzing up some lovingly wistful acoustic-led folk-pop, the director goes the close up on strings route with Joan's head superimposed over the sound hole. After about a minute of that followed by slow head and shoulders and top half of body shots the graphics people give up waiting and decide to superimpose many reflected images of that one shot over and over from different distances, because they can. There's an awkward moment during the sax solo when, with our man wailing on one half of the screen in CSO, the main shot stays tight on Armatrading's head instead of following the guitar playing or cutting to a wider angle as would happen now, as after all the singer's face is unlikely to be doing anything when not singing.

Lalo Schifrin – Theme From Jaws
Please remember, this competition is now closed, and has been such since 1st November 1976. "You don't have to have one quite as big as that."



Lovely stamp drawing. Meanwhile the dance to Schifrin's lounge-disco cover is a triumph of staging, as first we get some cut-out waves with a hopelessly realised fin moving around and about over which is superimposed our six new friends expressing facial shock. That's save for Lulu, who when scared for her life apparently reacts by sucking her cheeks in. Then there's some sort of bare legs and feet kicking in mid-air motif, following which comes the meat, those we must either call Our New Dancers or ?????? in short, somewhat figure hugging all in one wetsuits. That's what they paid the money and got shot of the boys for. Not much teamwork is going into the troupe's work yet, there being a lot of jumping about and running around but not much actual evident choreography in front of the sea representation with the fins still moving about as if by magic or underpaid stagehand. Patti gets a lengthy solo spot to close, which is somewhat upfront when attempting to press a favourite on us. "Fins ain't what they used to be" Tony retitles it, which somehow doesn't earn him a solar plexus punch from one of the two girls flanking him. "I wonder what you're going to call them next week" he wonders. Same as we'll call them for years afterwards, Tony.

Simon May – Summer Of My Life
As with Chicago and Leo Sayer Tony presses home that this was his record of the week, which doesn't reflect as well on him as he'd like to think. At last an audience turns up to watch him plod through this again while staring right down the camera, the hint of a smug smile on his lips. Not with that weak a vocal you're getting away with this sort of thing, May. Tony gets caught in a titular reverie: "Didn't we have a lovely summer? All that lovely sunshine, not like all the terrible rain we're getting now. Still, we could do with it, couldn't we." Always the cheaply populist DJ, Tony.

Wild Cherry – Play That Funky Music
The faux-live video, and Wild Cherry's frontman is dressed as 1976 funk men should be - reflective jacket, no shirt, semi-hairy chest, medallion. Textbook "really feeling it" facial expressions for his guitar solo too. Also the drummer's yellow T-shirt reads 'DRUMS'. The amazing self-captioning man there.

Pussycat – Mississippi
Only its third week at number one but it already feels like forever. This week they're back in the studio and keen to show off their new kimonos. The lead sister seems to have a little trouble hitting her correct notes at first but before long we're back into the professionally delivered country lament we know oh so well. Professional delivery is of course no use.

27 comments:

Noax said...

Is this the rundown with the largest number of cardboard cutout shots or what?!
Particularly poor is the Leo Sayer one - surely they must have had a proper picture of him somewhere?

Alan Price - Not much of his material available online is there? I'd quite like to buy 'Don't stop the carnival' but you can't get it anywhere. Notice I'm not talking about this song, which is OK in a 'very typical of 1976 AOR' type way. I'm surprised it didn't at least dent the Top 50.

Chicago - I actually like the song, but the vocal on this performance is bloody awful. I don't suppose we ever got anything else on the show did we?
Tony seemed to be doing a Savile-like fill before introducing this, and by the mild look of panic spreading across his face, I'd say someone was a bit slow fading this one up!

Leo Sayer - The bit at the start was identical to the beginning of Eric Carmen's extraordinary recording of 'All By Myself' from earlier in this run. Except further away. Decent tune, though I can never listen to it without thinking of his appearance on Vic and Bob's Families At War.

Joan Armatrading - 3 in a row that I like! I never understood the fuss about Tracy Chapman when she was basically Joan with just one decent song. She never did anything as good as 'Drop the pilot' either.

Lalo Schifrin - Dear oh dear. They could at least have livened it up a bit by moving Lalo's cardboard cutout from side to side as well as the shark fin. Perhaps with his pipe acting as a periscope. We all know that nobody would have been looking at the background though.

Pussycat - I can't decide whether this performance was better or worse than the other live one. It seemed a bit more sparse with the zither/bouzouki/whatever it was (can't tell as it wasn't visible on stage!) to the fore anyway. The drummer's outfit is great with his huge epaulettes which would make him look quite military were it not for the pink outfit that they're resting on.

Hey now said...

Come on, Tony, hate is a very strong word.

wilberforce said...

alan price - ordinary name, ordinary looking guy, which is bad enough when it comes to the glamour business that is pop music, but singing whilst hunched behind banks of keyboards is even less rock n roll! when it comes to live performance, the only thing worse than a singing keyboard player (and that includes reg despite him doing everything he could to distract from that handicap) is a singing drummer (btw, al wrote a "musical" about andy capp which may explain the t-shirt)...

lalo schifrin (pronounced LAR-lo shif-REEN - i took the trouble to find that out!) is a hollywood soundtrack legend and a personal hero of mine, but featuring his only hit (ironically written not by him but fellow tinseltown tunesmith john williams) here was a mistake. the first half of it is little more than a throbbing bass and some tentative electric piano noodling, which may sound great on the dancefloor but not through some tinny telly speaker - it gets more interesting later on with some orchestration and what i call "growl-flute", but of course by then it had already faded out... as regards the backdrop, purely by coincidence i also watched the killer shark film "deep blue sea" last night - i could hardly tell the difference!

note to trendy right-on media types: the title of wild cherry's all-time classic is NOT "play that funky music white boy" as you seem to think it's called when making reference to it (either through sheer ignorance or by trying to make some kind of point) - it is simply "play that funky music"!!!

on the pussycat record it sounds like there's an acoustic guitar strumming away, yet when they turned up at the beeb to re-record the song in accordance with musicians' union demands, it would seem that neither band nor studio had one between them - you can just imagine the engineer saying "oh, let's just do it on that les paul of yours and then try and make it sound like an acoustic"... but whatever the reason, it sounds really dreadful!

Angelo Gravity said...

Firstly, a disturbing thing to report - the Simon May song is growing on me - I caught myself humming it the other day...

Secondly, the Jaws theme sounded nothing like the Jaws theme, and I've seen that movie many times - but I did quite like the dance - I wonder if those floating legs we saw gave somebody somewhere, who happened to have a pencil and paper at hand, an idea for a dance troupe name....?

Arthur Nibble said...

What, Jaws & Co.?

Angelo Gravity said...

Now there's a name to get your teeth into :-)

Matra Rancho said...

I'd like to know who these trendy right-on media types are that Wilberforce is referring to. Be specific now!

Aside from that, it was interesting to see Chicago, Sayer and Armatrading all one after each other - pretty much pop standards now, almost felt like watching an episode of 'Top of the Pops 2'.

Bobby Morrow said...

That Alan Price song was quite catchy. Not as good as 'The Jarrow Song' though! Didn't Price star in a (sort of) sequel to 'Alfie' around this time? Can't say I ever saw it, however.

Arthur Nibble said...

Tone on poor form, and his grammar wasn’t up to scratch – ‘the brand new name for our brand new dancers’? Had they had another name apart from ?????? then? Later he refers to ‘our six brand new dancers’ – so are three of them lookalikes from the previous troupe? More on old Tone later.

Agreed, Alan Price's song (misnamed by Tone as already pointed out) was quite catchy, and also much better than his shaped vinyl cash-in, ‘Baby Of Mine’, which my mum bought – it was on red heart-shaped vinyl. Remember when singles weren’t just different colours, some were different shapes?

Can someone help me here? I thought that Chicago bassist Peter Cetera sang “If You Leave Me Now”, so is that him on guitar and vocals or is that Terry “The gun’s not loaded, I’ll prove it” Kath on mic duties?

Watch for Leo Sayer’s bored look away at 8:46. Much more interesting than him dancing like Charlie Chaplin with itching powder in his Jockeys.

Joan Armatrading – pure class. Simon May – pure drivel. Pussycat – pure boredom with this song now. Please make it stop!

Pre-Wild Cherry, those girls only just stop short of rolling their eyes and making ‘idiot’ faces after Tone’s drone about the weather. As an aside, I briefly met Tone once when I went for a job at the BBC and he was a miserable cock.

Best part of this edition was the dance routine - a cross between Music and Movement and “Baywatch”! 1980’s footballers’ shorts weren’t even that tight. A real shame Cherry wasn’t around to wear the costume to full effect, but rather glad Floyd and Phil didn’t have the opportunity to try it on either!

Bobby Morrow said...

It was Peter Cetera rocking a Farrah Fawcett hairdo and suffering from some sort of jaw disorder on lead vocal. He'd toned the former down by 'The Glory Of Love' a decade later.

Blackburn was distinctly off-form, even for him. Was it the Chicago intro where he used the word 'sound' three times?

Good days for Leo Sayer. YMMFLD was from his huge-selling 'Endless Flight' LP which broke him in America and also featured 'When I Need You'. Yes, it's just around the corner.

Bobby Morrow said...

Forgot to mention that Monday sees the release of a new Twiggy album! 'Romantically Yours' features the Twigster's take on standards and pop classics (well, they were) and is freshly recorded. She banged that one out quick, didn't she?! Sadly it doesn't feature a retake of her off-key minor chart hit 'Here I Go Again'...

Simon said...

Unfortunately the Twiggy album isn't a cash-in (much as I'd like to think these repeats could have that effect and even as we speak 5000 Volts are attempting to find a new frontwoman), it was announced just before Here I Go Again appeared.

1976 was the first year on Pick Of The Pops today, though three weeks ahead of the chart covered here. Tony mentioned the repeats and how on these shows he's younger than his own son is now, but nothing more about his Diddy relations. The second year was 1989, which is worth checking if only to hear the unique sound of Tony Blackburn introducing 808 State.

Arthur Nibble said...

That mystery Alan Price line sounds like 'Down the street rolls a boney taxi". Anyone able to verify or translate this for me?

Ian said...

When I saw Tony's t-shirt the first thing I thought of was your list of punk on TOTP and how it might be revised... I'm certain that Paul Cook was wearing an I Hate Pink Floyd top on the Granada So It Goes appearance, and there had perhaps been some mention in music press articles by this time... the phrase was surely known to some and I'm happy to class this as at least a vague reference to punk in 1976.

Vintage Reading said...

Pretty lame episode this week I thought. Wild Cherry sang like they meant it though.

wilberforce said...

matra - regarding trendy right-on media types, i've seen mention of the wild cherry track with new tacked-on title at least twice in print in recent times (probably in the observer as that's the only paper i read these days), certainly when prince covered it live at the O2 arena - to me it's the same kind of lazy journalism as referring to the vulcan in star trek as "dr spock"...

i note in this episode that tony blackburn has been working even harder on his variation of the combover - the "comb-forward", as modelled by dave hill of slade (by coincidence, MR spock also had the same hairstyle)... back in the late 90's the 70's disco revival was kicking in, and i went to one such event that featured tony and his old sparring partner diddy - tone was wearing an enormous medallion that he swung around his head (hope his wig was screwed on tight!) that was actually quite amusing at first, but not so when he was still doing it 15 minutes later...

"you make me feel like dancing" somewhat incredibly won a grammy for "best r&b song", seeing off the likes of the commodores and earth wind and fire in the process - lionel richie was so shocked by this that he resolved "if you can't beat 'em join 'em" and turned his band from a decent funk outfit into purveyors of insipid pop ballads...

Steve Morgan said...

I thought this was quite a credible effort of a show this week, but are Pussycat really only on their third week at number one? It seems longer, but it was a change to see Amanda Theunissen and the gang in studio rather than the "crazyboat" video. I've been enjoying the song but getting a bit fed up of it now but only one more week of it to go before Chicago get there, speaking of which, it was good to see them despite Cetera's big hair and even bigger guitar, I'd always wondered how he managed to strum that huge thing, I suppose we'll be fed up of that one in a couple of weeks time despite it being one of the best number ones of '76.
Loved Tone's comment about the T shirt being "the new look for 1977" with a little bit more foresight he could have ripped it and stuck a few safety pins on it and he would have been spot on.
We have some mixed reactions to this show, as usual, (you can't please everyone's tastes all the time) but as I stated, I thought it was a credible effort of a show with quite a varied selection, Sayer, Chicago, Wild Cherry and the sublime Joan Armatrading, but (apart from Simon May) what let it down was the as yet unamed dancer's routine to Jaws, which bore absolutely no resemblance to the original John Williams theme whatsoever and wasn't the best choregraphy I seen with them running aimlessly round the stage, although they looked good in those skin tight wet suits, which would have looked better still had they actually been wet.
Looking forward to some more Chicago before the rest of the year pays tribute to the 1950's with Showaddywaddy and Mathis at the top.

Simon said...

The Pussycat prevalence may be due to that they were also on the show the week before it reached number one, so they've been on four weeks in a row so far. Because it took a while to climb to the top they were also on two of the wiped shows even before then - imagine how we'd be feeling if those had survived and been reshown.

wilberforce said...

arthur - maybe tony was a miserable cock because he had ambitions to be a pop singer, and when that failed he had to settle for being a man who played (other people's) records? either that or he was still pining for tessa...

also, when he did the 1989 oldies show, i wonder if he did a "durrun durrun" and introduced the sensational sound of "eight hundred and eight state"...?

Steve Williams said...

This episode must surely have had the lowest average BPM ever, what with Chicago, Joan Sundaytrading, Pussycat and Simon May under a giant maple leaf. Only Alan Price managed to get a shift on, and that sounded like a regional news theme.

I dunno why they did the punchline to the T-shirt gag in the second link, unless Tone couldn't bear for anyone to think he meant it, or Diddy was a bit busy and had something else on that night. As predicted up there, one of the Pops Annuals does say that the winning name was inspired by the amount of leg shown in this routine. I liked Gill's Frankie Howerd-esque gurning.

I can never work out if Leo Sayer is sat down or not in that bit of the "video" where they frantically turn the lights on and off.

Anonymous said...

Re: Alan Price
Down the street rolls a bony taxi.(Courtesy of BBCi Player subtitles)

Old Applejack said...

Enjoyed this show. Apart from the Simon May tune which is bloody interminable. Reminds me very much of the Not the Nine O'Clock News Barry Manilow pastiche. La la la la pancake...

Good to see Leo, I've been waiting for him to turn up. Always seemed like a happy chap. That bubble burst for me when he was on Celebrity Big Brother, when he was the epitome of the angry little man.

Didn't Pete Cetera from Chicago adopt his style of singing after having to have his jaw wired shut earlier in his life?

Arthur Nibble said...

Good call, Applejack! Turns out Peter Cetera had his jaw broken in three places at a baseball game, by some marines who took exception to how he looked.

Suefan said...

Hi Simon, just wondering if the sight of the ladies in those wet suits is too much for you since it is Sue and not Patti that has the lengthy solo at the end.

wilberforce said...

a friend of mine bumped into leo sayer at a pizza hut a few years back - i was most disappointed to hear he wasn't taking the orders...

Simon said...

Oh, course it's Sue. Did take a week for anyone to notice, mind you...

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

Three bands called Band in the chart this week - JALN Band, Average white Band, Climax Blues Band. And a lot of black and white/sepia photos cut out or not - Leo Sayer, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Neil Diamond, Steely Dan, Joan Armatrading, Lalo Schifrin, Rick Dees.

Surely that was a specially made video of Leo Sayer he wasn't in the studio. He's miming to the record and the camera work is too sophisticated for TOTP, it's more like the stuff they did on Supersonic with the 360 degree pan.

I thought the same was true of Joan Armour-plating because it's so close to the record but some of of her phrasings are different and the sax solo is different so maybe that was in the studio.

But the audience are only visible in three of the performances today Alan Price, Pussycat and Simon May although in the latter they might as well have been absent as they show no signs of life at all.

Even though The Summer Of My life owes a lot to John Miles' Music and MacArthur Park it is a catchy song, it's just Simon's weedy Neil Tennsantesque vocals that let it down.

Wild Cherry, the drummer's T-shirt reads doesn't say 'DRUMS' but 'D DUMS'. Diddums?

And Pussycat again with that song about Zippy from Rainbow's wife, Mrs Zippy. The leads singer puts me in mind of a young Amanda Redman.