Friday, 25 November 2011

TOTP 4/11/76 (tx 24/11/11): we've had lots of letters

Fourth last retained show before Christmas, but it looks like Noel has been a little ahead of schedule by surrounding himself with big sacks. Oh, no, it's the other possible gag: "tonight's programme is dedicated to everyone who wanted me to get the sack".

Steve Miller, who we'll see later, gets a cutout that doesn't work in two dimensions, pointing the guitar head right at camera as he is. It's almost as alarming as the Pipe Smoker Of The Year Lalo Schifrin.

Showaddywaddy – Under The Moon Of Love
Since we last saw the 'waddy, in the real world singer Dave Bartram has retired and secondary frontman Buddy Gask has died, so consider this a tribute. The canned applause at the end of the countdown completely masks Romeo Challenger's big kettle drum intro, surely revival rockabilly's most exciting moment that doesn't involve Den Hegarty. There's a big concept to this one as it's been recorded twice, once in white suits, once in black suits, the former the default but with clips of the latter being cut in gradually more often. It's a neat method of confusion, not that a stage full of faux-Teds in Daz-sparkling suits really needs more visual gimmickery to stand out. Bartram makes an appealing frontman, lots of side looks to camera and for the bridge getting down on his knees on the lip of the stage so as to greater appeal to the girls who it turned out rarely returned the compliment in awestruckness terms, but they'd got to find something for the two auxiliary members to do other than BVs, handclaps and turning in circles. Everyone, after all, is already doing that step-forward-step-back thing. Lots of tipping of the shot to the side too, which we haven't seen since Dancing With The Captain, appropriately given in conjunction with the band's perpetual motion it threatens seasickness. Eventually Bartram sits on the front of the stage and then does so in black too, which spoils the impression of in-the-moment improvisation. As a crowning coda Challenger gives the timpani one last double whack after the playback has finished. That natural reverb goes a long way.

The Manhattans – Hurt
"The sound in the chart with the big deep voice at the beginning - no, not Lena Zavaroni!" Girls behind Noel actually laugh. One falls off a small ledge in mirth. He's found his level at last. Just nobody mention that Zavaroni was going to have had all the chart success she'd have by mid-1974. This video in all its overhead spotlit, dragging nature was on back in October. It feels longer, actually.

Steve Miller Band – Rock 'N' Me
Those sacks? They seem to contain a lot of letters of potential names for what Noel pointedly refers to as "our new all lady dancing group". In fact "you've ruined it, totally ruined it" - us, Noel? The problem is at your end, surely, if you can't find time to read and weight up all the suggestions. Leaving the announcement to "DLT next week" - yeah, about that... - he instead bids "see you next week for that announcement", which seems undue of him. For their third week of nameless wondering the girls are lost in a fog of dry ice amid a song that (knowingly) rips off the intro to All Right Now. Some patented strutting, shimmying and smiling follows in tops and skirts of a variety of lengths and glitteriness. Gill and Pauline get to do some backwards back arching work but in truth it all looks a bit of a mess of routines. Now, I got this wrong last week, but getting a bit of a solo at the end as everyone else retreats mysteriously into the gloaming... that is Patti, isn't it?

The Who – Substitute
This is fascinating for all sorts of reasons. Firstly, Noel is correct in saying the live footage shown is from their gig at Charlton Athletic's The Valley, but it's the show from 1974 rather than that from May 1976 that set a longstanding record for the world's loudest gig (and from which this marvellous piece of Moon/Townshend exchanging of views comes). In fairness Noel doesn't give a year so maybe he'd hoped nobody would look it up. Secondly, what's it doing back in the charts anyway? To promote The Story Of The Who, in fact, and perhaps latch onto that aforementioned gig. Thirdly, it doesn't seem the clip is that well circulated. Even to a BBC considerably better off than it is now when it's reduced to putting 35 year old stupid pop show repeats on its arts and learning channel, how much must it have cost to clear?

Bonnie Tyler – Lost In France
Noel's keen to mention Bonnie is from South Wales; I'm keen to mention that the hexagon backdrop has been redesigned so it looks even more Holnessised to our modern eyes. Can't work out if the lights coming back from its surface are CSO or reflections. Bonnie's enjoying herself alone on stage , which is far more that her audience are visibly doing. Noel, even by his own standards, is stretching things: "She obviously went Toulon, went to Rouen, Paris the thought". Nobody laughs at that.

Tavares – Don't Take Away The Music
The glittery bolero/matador jackets and even more dry ice than Legs & Co got are back.

Climax Blues Band – Couldn't Get It Right
Noel lets on that he'd only just found out that they're British, though in fairness otherwise would be your first impression. He then calls the song Couldn't Get It Wrong, because he's a wit. It's a new performance, as shown by the singer's heavy five o'clock shadow and a new band logo sign right behind the drummer's head. The letters flicker with lights! Though that may be visual editor majick, actually, as shown when the cardboard star for some reason attached to the bass changes shade. A group of kids near the back shuffle self-consciously in an attempt to look hip, grin and then just turn round and watch the monitor instead. At the end one of them, and someone else across the other side of the crowd, wave at the crane camera. Yes, we can see you.

Before we get to number one, Noel has guests of some standing joining him by those kettle drums. Terry Kath, Peter Cetera and Danny Seraphine of Chicago, in fact, whom Noel soft soaps by going on about how their number two sound should be number one. Behind his back Peter is doing lots of pointing that he imagines is self-effacing. Noel's interview technique makes Jools Holland seem like David Frost, starting with asking the wrong person what inspired the song ("experience") and then failing to get anything of note out of anyone. Noel consciously mentions jet lag. Not sure that's the half of it.

Pussycat – Mississippi
It's right at the end of their little chat that the real gold comes as the music starts, maybe out of producer blind panic, and we get the sight of Kath, a large man, starts dancing. I say 'dancing', he kind of bends at the knee while air guitaring and making an appropriate face, one part meaningful to at least four parts downright mocking. The director cops out and cuts to a close-up of Noel's face lest the moment of a fourth week at number one (for a song placename "nowhere near Chicago") be spoilt by his full move set. God knows it would have been far more entertaining than that video again.


Arthur Nibble said...

(Cue Frankie Howerd...) And so, it came to pass that, after one self-penned flop too many, Showaddywaddy embarked on a career of pedestrian rock‘n’roll covers and constantly touring holiday camps and caravan parks. The black / white costume changes were innovative, but pity any audience member who hated the band or song and were treated to an unwanted second helping.

Latest unexpected old blokes in camera shot (but nothing like as good as the dodgy geezer in the Heavy Metal Kids clip) – anyone else notice the chap with shirt collar outside jacket, heartily joining in the first chorus of “Lost In France” while standing next to the camera behind Bonnie? Also, if you watch this edition on BBC iPlayer, check out the preview picture of the ‘Waddy from another edition, featuring a bloke at least 20 years older than anyone else looking up at a monitor.

Sadly, another Linda Kelly moment for us, even accounting for Buddy Gask. Colin Cooper, complete this time with sax strap and almost as much facial hair as Roy Wood, died three years ago aged 69. The sign he was singing about looking out for was a hotel sign on a freeway, as the song’s about the trials and tribulations of being on the road in America.

Strange but true - the band had to change their name from the Climax Chicago Blues Band to avoid any conflict with a band bearing the same city in their name. Spookily, this other band had already needed to change their name from the Chicago Transit Authority when the same-named company complained, although Chicago still used the full title for the name of an album.

Talking of Chicago, why were three of them in the studio other than for less than subliminal reasons to entice punters to buy their single? Awful crawly-bumlick stuff from Noel, who obviously hadn’t checked the songwriting credits for “If You Leave Me Now”. Great interviewing technique – one question to Terry, asking him about the inspiration for a song he didn’t write.

Still, according to Noel, it’s DLT next week – except it isn’t, as the next two shows are missing. Scant consolation, but let’s be grateful for very small mercies.

Wellieman said...

I think it's fair to say this was a career defining performance for Showaddywaddy. In the last year they had two very weak hits (Heavenly and Trocadero, both reached 30-odd in charts) and their summer 76 single flopped totally. So in some ways this was last chance saloon for them.

But fair do's it came up trumps big style and allowed them to extend their chart career another 6-odd years and gave them a lifetime career on the cabaret/nostagia circuit.

They were lucky to have this song though as Mud had it on their 'Use Your Imagination' album a year before. My brother had this and I recall wondering why Mud didn't release it as it sounded a hit. Nevertheless I was pleased when the 'Waddy took it on all the way to No.1.

Angelo Gravity said...

Under the Moon of Love was THE song of 76 for me at the time and I remember that white suit/black suit performance better than any other of the year ~ I was fascinated by it as a 9 year old and pondered how they did it - maybe camera trickery I conjectured until finally arriving at the slightly uneasy conclusion that they may have actually sung it twice :-)

Gutted that the naming of Legs and Co episode has been lost - and I wonder if anyone knows of any other names on the short list?

Dyonn said...

I suggest that the Showaddywaddy costume change was a terrible piece of continuity error. There doesn't seem to be a good reason for it, it just looks bizarre. Maybe they film all the performances twice, but no-one else gets changed?

Arthur Nibble said...

Another point about the Waddy is that, being an amalgamation of two four-piece bands, they doubled up on vocals / bass / guitar / drums which gave them plenty of flexibility (or, as it turned out eventually, as many vocalists as instrumentalists, although Al and Malcolm never appear to have sung lead - unless you know different?), and YouTube evidence shows that they rocked the double drummer rhythm before Adam and the Ants, at least in televised terms, beating those hep young cats to the four sticks crown.

Steve Morgan said...

The world starts tonight for Bonnie Tyler and it was good to see this young slip of a girl promoting her first hit. Shame the audience couldn't have shown as much interest as the cameramen. Tyler certainly did promote this single a lot, I vaguely recall an appearance on Swap Shop and certainly some ads in the music papers, Record Mirror comes to mind.
An excellent edition this one, from it's opener to the end. I really enjoyed Showaddywaddy's performance and don't think it was a bizarre lapse of judgment or continuity error, I think the change of suits was innovative for the time, and the editing of it was flawless. Incidentally, does anyone remember them appearing on Jim'll Fix It around this time with two blind girls who wanted to meet them? It was a classic Fix and it seemed the girls had a great day, I'd love to see that again.
I also loved Climax Blues Band's performance again, the song is growing on me with every listen, but I'm getting mightily fed up of Pussycat now and will be glad to see it drop from number one in favour of Chicago who get there next week in spite of Noel's embarrasing interview with them, fortunately the couple of days in the country promoting the record did the trick.
So, a few missing editions between now and Christmas then, the one good thing about this is we miss next week's DLT show, not a bad thing, but let's hope the surviving editions are good ones.

wilberforce said...

this appearance of showaddywaddy raises quite a few queries from me:
1 - i've probably mentioned this before, but why did dave bartram persist with the david cassidy feathercut to go with his teddy boy drapes? at least the rest made some effort at quiffs (romeo excepted but he's excused), even though they inadvertently invented the mullet...
2 - did jimmy savile ever actually introduce the band on TOTP, thus inspiring hugh dennis' oft-used parody on "mock the week"?
3 - don't you agree that one of the backing singers is a dead spit for dick emery's bovver boy?

on a more serious note, whose idea was it to film them performing twice? presumably the band's as they probably wouldn't have had a spare set of stage threads with them by chance... which raises the question: how tight were the TOTP recording schedules? presumably not that tight if they could persuade the director to indulge them in that manner... which raises another thought: did they ever consider filming artists miming to the same song more than once in different settings, so they could show a different studio recording rather than repeat the first one should the artist not be available later on when the song is still doing well? probably not, but it would still be interesting to hear from anyone who was there exactly what went on when these shows were recorded (presumably each episode was done on the same day rather than over the course of a week?)...

steve miller doesn't just rip off the "alright now" riff, he also copies the melody of the first line of the eagles' "take it easy"!

the only possible reason bonnie tyler was successful must have been due to the dearth of solo british female singers at the time - there's no way someone like that would get a recording contract these days, never mind a hit! by the way, is the old geezer spotted by arthur terry wogan's stunt double?

going back to my queries about TOTP recordings, as some of them had made the effort to get to the studio, why were chicago not asked to actually perform? they could at least have got peter cetera to do a solo spot... maybe the producers weren't prepared to allow them to violate the "no two weeks in a row unless you're number one" rule, despite the fact that they apparently had no intention in remaining in blighty for another week regardless of how well their single performed? maybe johnny pearson couldn't get hold of any decent french horn players at short notice? whatever the reason it seems a wasted opportunity and a lack of foresight, but i don't suppose people cared about such things back then like we do now...

Simon said...

1. Bartram is (well, says here he's) 59 now so if there was going to be anything for the girls it'd be his youthful cheekiness. On the Christmas show he does the same sitting on the lip of the stage attempting to sing directly into the girl's faces, except this time he's brought a sprig of misteltoe. Subtle of him.

2. Yes.

I'm not sure where the continuity error idea has root, they clearly inteded it otherwise, as you say, they wouldn't have brought two sets of gear exactly the same but for colour. Regarding recording a lot of shows around this time seem underplayed for studio performances, as you'll see when I break down some of the missing shows, but they had their gear set up permanently on that stage, Noel and his bulging sacks are in front of a speaker and the timpani is visible behind Chicago. If you want to query anything from the show in terms of recording schedule I'd have a look at Climax Blues Band - even though it's their second time so a repeat could have done there's no direct cut or pan to them, both times Noel is faded out and then cut back to, and from the extended ending they may even have been playing live. (The 'Waddy, incidentally, have just taken on a second drummer and saxophonist for the first time in at least a decade, though with Bartram now retired there's only bassist Rod Deas and that man Romeo Challenger left from the classic lineup)

Maybe Chicago were only over on promotional duty? Only three of the then eight piece turned up and the album had been out since June.

Chris Barratt said...

The Jimmy Savile "Sho-Wadday-Wadday" comes from (for him at least) a pretty exitable introduction to the 10/12/81 show when the band were on promoting their penultimate hit "Footsteps"
I think the Chicago interview shows how lame the TOTP format was in 76 - circa 1970 they would have been presenting awards to the 'Grooviest Dancers' or 'Dolly Gear Girl' a la Bob "The Bear" Hite & Canned Heat in the 29/1/70 edition ('Don't forget to boogie-woogie.. RAVE ON!')

Noax said...

Showaddywaddy - Although I don't remember this performance I can totally see why the 4 year old me would've loved this band. A great song, and an amazingly (for the time) well edited together couple of performances to give a cracking start to the show.

Steve Miller Band - Not sure how I never noticed the Free rip-off before, as it's bloody obvious. How did they get away with that then? Of the ????? dancers, Pauline annoyed me at the time and still does, I'm not really sure why. I'm not sure who my new favourite is yet either. How quickly was this faded down by the way? The sound mixer was also a bit quick at the end of....

Bonnie Tyler - Singing the only song of hers that I can still stand, given the massive overexposure of her two 80s hits. I'm not sure why the rundown picture of her makes it look like she has dark hair though.
The stage, as well as being Holnesstastic, also has a little look of the Drogna from The Adventure Game as well.

Climax Blues Band - A much better performance than last time, but was this really for the Pops? It looked suspiciously like a German TV performance to me.

Pussycat - I'm ignoring that toe-curling chat with Chicago (did Noel buy 10000 copies that week?) and moving on to something that's confusing me.
When they showed 70s TOTP on UK Gold in the mid-90s I recorded quite a lot of stuff, one clip being the Pussycat video which was definitely while it was at the top as the credits rolled over it. However, I could've sworn that this had the '?????' credit for the dancers over the end and was introduced by David Hamilton. So either my memory's completely false on this one (likely) or they've wiped a show since repeating it then. Surely not?! I shall have to check the VHS as sadly I still have it.

Bobby Morrow said...

Didn't Bonnie Tyler have some sort of throat surgery to make her voice more gravelly? I thought it was just press talk at the time, but she's nowhere near as croaky here as she was on It's A Heartache two years later. Liked the girl next door look. Like many female singers, Bonnie underwent a 'sexy' makeover in the 80's.

A good performance of Couldn't Get It Right, I thought. I have it one one of those Guilty Pleasure comps and have grown quite fond of it over the years.

Remember Showaddywaddy shooting to #1 with UTMOL. They really had quite the career, didn't they? I was never really a fan though, despite much of their material being new to me as a young lad.

Dreadful Noel 'interview' with Chicago. Sort of a prototype for the stuff he'd do on The Late Late Breakfast Show in a few years. Cetera seemed particularly un cooperative. Terry looked like he wish he'd brought his gun...

Simon said...

Not to become more gravelly, I'm not sure anyone offers that service - story is a year after this she developed nodules on her vocal chords, was told not to speak for six weeks but one day yelled out in frustration at something and her voice was permanently altered.

Arthur Nibble (again) said...

Re Wellieman's comments, a case of the fickle finger of fate. Mud record 'Moon' but it remains just an album track, Showaddywaddy release it probably as a last chance. Showaddywaddy manage several more years in the chart as a result and, ironically, 'Moon' makes number one just as Mud are unknowingly enjoying their last ever hit. Had Mud or their record label shown some savvy, wonder if Mud would have enjoyed five more years of chart glory and Showaddywaddy would have gone down the dumper?

Anonymous said...

Agree with the point about Chicago. Why have such a big band who were almost certain to reach number one to have a crappy interview? Or did they perform on the show but we can't see it because it is wiped?

alephnaught said...

The impression I get from that awkward interview with Chicago band members, and all those "this OUGHT TO BE NUMBER 1, REALLY, VIEWERS" type hints fron Noel Edmonds throughout that spot, is that that the Beeb actually were expecting Chicago to be number 1, and had asked the band to perform on the show given they were in town, only to find the day before recording (the charts were announced on Tuesday lunchtime at this point, and show recorded on a Wednesday.) that Pussycat had hung on for yet another week. This would also explain why Pussycat were on video this time, not in studio like the previous week.

Steve Williams said...

I think this was the show that seemed to suffer most from being half an hour, because you really want Noel to have much longer to pun and pontificate. Controversially not wearing a tie, this time, of course.

The Climax Blues Band were a bit livelier this time, with the keyboard player standing up at least. The other highlight was Pauline's ridiculous rictus grin while doing those leans back during Rock'n'Me, that must be the dance training to carry on smiling through the pain.

Noax said...

For those of you waiting with baited breath on my VHS search for the Pussycat video (no-one I suspect) I found it and it was the Stewpot edition. So clearly the memory does cheat sometimes. I'm off to put a Hawaiian shirt on to celebrate that fact (Doctor Who joke there for the fans)

London Screenwriter13 said...

I remember that Showwaddywaddy used that trick of two performances with different colour clothing several times. On a later occasion Bartram said they recorded the second take after the audience had gone, although that was clearly not the casethis time.

Chris Barratt said...

"Rock'n Me" had that All Right Now bit in the intro as a tribute to the once prodigal guitarist Paul Kossoff - once a 'great white hope' as a guitarist in the early days of Free, he descended into drug abuse and died of a heart attack on an air-flight earlier in 1976 aged just 25. Steve was doffing his cap to Paul with that lick in the intro.
Talking of great guitarists - in 1970 when Jimi Hendrix was asked who he rated among his peers, he singled out Chicago's Terry Kath as the best. He wasn't far wrong either, musically in the early Chicago were an entirely different musical proposition to the AOR-lite they became after Kath's death in 1978 - comparable to Blood Sweat & Tears, or Santana. Certainly listening to the lengthy solo in the mighty "25 or 6 to 4" confirms Jimi was right.

Vintage Reading said...

The 'waddy, indeed!

Nice to see the young Bonnie Tyler. Daft song, though. Great vocals from The Manhattans. Lovely Sue gets sidelined again by pouty Patti! Enjoyable episode this week.

Old Applejack said...

Late to the party, I'm sorry.

And I'll have no-one calling them the 'waddy. You're not J**tin L** C*llins.

Enjoyed the show. Less keen on the Manhattans. As my wife said, 'they're no Pips'. Mind you, when I said that I favourite Legs and Co-er was Rosie, all my wife could say was 'she's got a big nose', so what does she know?

Thought Noel got a touch of theB lackburns in introducing the Tavares. Did he call it 'Don't Stop The Music'?

Also, can anyone tell me the line that follows "It's the only friend I've got' in said song?

Steve Morgan said...

The chorus goes: "Don't take away the music, it's the only friend I've got, It's my piece of the rock.
Don't take away the music, everything else is gone, don't strip my world of this song"

Hope that helps :)

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

Just re-watching some old shows and thought I'd post a few comments.

The Showaddywaddy twin film thing, this became common place in videos in years to come with two performances cut up but it was quite new at the time. Maybe the black and white suits represents being not under and under the moon (of love). Also the Sir Jim "Sho-wadday-waddya" announcement, wasn't it Phil Jupitus who started that? He certainly said it a lot of times on Buzzcocks.

Re the idea of filming two performances and saving one for future use I'm certain they did just that with visiting US singer Lee Garrett earlier in 1976. His second appearance was different to the first (different clothes) but it was bereft of any audience members. Not sure why they didn't do this more often.

The climax Blues Band was definitely recorded for this show because they are performing in front of the same multi-coloured panels that Noel is in front of at the very start (rather appropriate in his case).

And Chicago not filming a performance for future use, maybe they had heard about the kind of thing the TOTP orchestra did with other people's songs and decided that it wasn't worth the risk, so back to the USA they went leaving behind that jerky video.

My faves here were The Manhattans and Tavares, two songs I bought and played to death at the time. I recently found both their albums at the same car boot sale and was very pleased to finally own the albums I could only dream about hearing at the time (I remember the label text on the singles would always say 'edited from their album' meaning the LP versions were always longer).