Friday, 23 December 2011

TOTP 26/12/76 (tx 22/12/11): farewell to all that

And as our BBC4 year began with Tony Blackburn, so it ends 33 retained shows later with Tony keeping Jimmy company. Jimmy is, of course, wearing a Santa suit, cigar in, pack of cards fascinatingly in hand. Less explicably, on the table is front of them is a Ludo game box and a large pink triangle with what seems to be a picture of a dog on. No mention at all in the intro of this being the second show. Given the Legs & Co quotient forthcoming, how late did they schedule back then?

Brotherhood Of Man – Save Your Kisses For Me
Of the many studio performances, this is the one with the Union Jack design above the stage, in which everyone seems to be providing live vocals. Surely they had the option otherwise, even if they needed the practice ahead of Eurovision.

Billy Ocean – Love Really Hurts Without You
Tony finds the sight at close quarters of Jimmy pretending to be surprised hilarious. "Right over there", this is Billy at his most conservative of dress sense, which is saying something given he's wearing an all-in-one linen outfit, the jacket part of which boasts massive lapels over a pink tanktop, and in which he seems to have shoved something a little extra for the ladies' imaginations down the front. Performing in front of a glittery curtain he comes across as soul's most self-confident, not to mention optimstic, working men's club performer. Two people right down the front have the same curiously designed hat on that they were exhibiting right in front of our openers, which means these clips come from the 25th March programme, the week before BBC4 picked up on them.

Sailor – Glass Of Champagne
We join Tony struggling to open a bottle of the titular. Well, thanks to less than snappy editing we join him as he's holding the bottle at right angles as he comes to the gradual realisation that he really should be seen to be giving it all he's go if this is going to look realistic at all. You may argue that any chance of realism left the studio when Jimmy arrived, but there you go. Jimmy revels in drinking his "BBC tea", though there doesn't seem to be anything in the cup. There being anything to genuinely drink doesn't seem to have affected Sailor, who started off this crazy BBC4 ride and now turn up in its first phase's death throes, who start off by toasting us with their appropriately half-filled glasses - there's *two* champers bottles on the band's trusty Nickelodeon - and then go on to look like that was but the televisual tip of the iceberg in their day of getting sloshed. Everyone's in bow tie and flannel, drummer Grant Serpell seems to be sporting a cape, Henry Marsh (who, incidentally, recently married Dee Dee out of Pan's People) is sporting a top hat, a cane (though he carries both off with much more gravity than Paul Nicholas ever could) and an inane grin (that less so). Georg Kajanus already has streamers around his shoulders and general being. Nothing untoward has happened to Phil Pickett's appearance. The big bass drum on the side of the Nickelodeon is proved to be there for more than decoration. The second time Marsh bends down to beat it and and Nickel-oppo Pickett crouch down and do something for the camera, which is unfortunate given the camera misses it. Towards the end the balloons are released, but all uupon Serpell, who in close-up looks not unreasonably suddenly both excited and confused. Literally, when the director cuts back to a full stage shot there doesn't appear to be another balloon drop point anywhere. Before long everyone but the professional and perhaps most sober Kajanus has abandoned their station to fight the balloons off. Jimmy, who appreciates a good sailor, seems to be transfixed.

Wings – Let 'Em In
The Real Thing are setting up on the Quantel-fied screen behind them, as if this were real time. Instead it's Legs & Co and that delayed attempt at one-upping their predecessors. Problem is, being as they're still bedding in there's little sense of fun, spontaneity or character about Legs yet, so presented with some doors in a circle all they can come up with to do is walk through them in dressing gowns, the full coverage presumably the leverage for being in their pants for the other three new routines. And yeah, sure, there's opening and closing of doors in sequence, but there's no sticking their head through and making an amusing face and/or wave. There's no gratuitious arse-waggling. Nobody claims to be Martin Luther. There's no way of getting round it, this routine is just walking. A little eavesdropping and waiting enters later on, but that's to fill out breaks as much as anything.

The Real Thing – You To Me Are Everything
Tony proffers a box of Terry's All Gold, which Jimmy doesn't give a second look. If Billy was holding back on the colour clashing, the Real Thing have gone all out on their return, the open-fronted mustard coloured fringed jacket still losing out to whichever Amoo brother it is in the time honoured silver dungarees off one shoulder/neckerchief/glittery hat combination, and just for emphasis both of outfit and place in the band he's on a raised stage-within-a-stage. There's a girl in the audience in a sailor's hat. Her luck was in earlier in the night right enough.

Dr Hook – A Little Bit More
The multi-layered beard and latent homoeroticism of the video. Jimmy in introduction chooses to hide behind a balloon. Fair comment.

ABBA – Fernando
Again. Jimmy uses "as it 'appens" twice in a sentence, as if he has a reputation to keep up or something. "I can't stop eating these nuts, Jim" is Tony's straightforward reponse. Even though there's a studio performance they could have shown it's fireside wistfulness of the video.

Rod Stewart – The Killing Of Georgie
Ah, Diddy's favourite. For the third song in a row it's the video, Rod perhaps unwisely given the subject matter flouncing about on a great big stage with only a microphone and big blouse for company. "I would like to tell you a horrific story about him (Tony)" Jimmy starts the link out of a song about homophobic murder.

Our Kid – You Just Might See Me Cry
After three videos, a repeat of the massive buttonhole flower-enhanced studio performance of "one of the youngest groups to make it this year", suggesting there were younger groups who've fooled us plebs but not the pros. Perhaps my favourite wrongheaded #totp tweet this year, even ahead of the weekly "why are BBC4 showing 1976 again?", is the person who moaned "was there a TOTP in 1976 Our Kid weren't on?" Yes, all but three of them, and one of those has been wiped and one was months later.

Johnny Mathis – When A Child Is Born
"Don't know if you know him or not", Jim? Haven't we all seen this enough by now? Three Pops-programming appearances in four days. TOTP2 captioned it as being from 1977, which shows how much departments observe what each other is doing.

The Four Seasons – December '63 (Oh What A Night)
At last, something new! Even if it is just Legs & Co, and a Legs without Patti at that. There is speculation that they recorded the other three dances for one show and then had to make up the numbers (or possibly they were set to fill in for an act that became available and had to make a late change) only for Patti to fall ill, which makes sense. Small bra and pants all round again, each in different colours and augmented with glittery headdresses and a bit of chiffon in the back so you can't ogle them from behind. The director's solution is to shoot all the close-ups from below to even less subtle result. The five are on stages around the audience in the middle, whose job is to wave strands of tinsel around to no discernible atmospheric effect.

Chicago – If You Leave Me Now
"One of my favourite records of the moment" says Tony ahead of another video. Me? I'd rather see Terry Kath's Mississippi dance again.

Showaddywaddy – Under The Moon Of Love
The problem with the 'waddy... well, more than one, but for the purpose it was that with the overmanning two members often seemed to have little to do. That's been solved by giving them miniature guitars of little potential resonance, so that's that sorted and them happy. Once again it's the black/white switcheroo, but this time mixed in is a perspective joke as drums and timpani subtly shift between the front and back of the stage, the consistently pissed off looking Romeo Challenger to the forefront in the black. Oddly Dave Bartram doesn't get to change at all, but there's a reason for that. When he gets down on his knees at the lip of the stage for the first "I wanna talk sweet talk..." bridge he grabs a young lady's hand - maybe the young lady at the front of the previous shot from the back of the stage seen holding a 7" record - and then, the old charmer, brings out a sprig of mistletoe, albeit very ragged and battered looking mistletoe. The expected is elected not to be carried out. Understandably, everyone makes a large gap at the front when he tries for the second time. A few streamers thrown around, back in the studio Jimmy puts out his cigar and then uses it to burst a balloon by Tony's head. "And it's goodbye from him!" And it's goodbye from 1976, as a time entity then and as a concept now.

Top Of The Pops will return in 1977, on 6th January 2012. The blog has one more post before the end of the year.

Whichever year you want to read that as.


wilberforce said...

i agree with other comments that these TOTP xmas specials just don't hold the same appeal as the regular shows, in my case probably because i'm more interested in the previously-forgotten pop flotsam and jetsam that has bobbed back into view rather than the big hits...

i was watching this one with a friend whose definition of a DJ is "a man who puts records on", and upon seeing the odd-couple double-act of tony and jimmy he was moved to remark "look at that pair - they don't have a shred of talent between them"! my own thoughts were that jimmy with that peculiar haircut may well have served as inspiration for the nation's (or rather the british media's) favourite transvestite potter grayson perry...

ps - i'd also like to thank simon for his efforts and hope the site continues for as long as they keep showing these vintage TOTPs...

Vin said...

I would also like to thank Simon. I've looked forward to reading these updates. I was one of those who 'assumed' all TOTP episodes existed, so it's interesting but sad to know what has (possibly) been lost forever.

As regards the Boxing day episode, during the Showaddywaddy performance my Dad said - I saw Showaddywaddy at Scunthorpe Baths, or it might have been Mud, or maybe it was Showaddywaddy, I can't remember, but I do remember it was a brilliant night...

Also, not sure about Our Kid getting halfway through a 'seig heil' in that performance. It's 1976 Top of the Pops, not the 1936 Olympics.

Arthur Nibble said...

Never any chance of them being on either Xmas show but...big Glamourpuss news! At least for me, anyway. Somebody's downloaded both their singles on YouTube in the last day or two. Just type the word 'Glamourpuss' and you'll be directed to their efforts. On reflection, "Superman" might have deserved better. After all, if Joy Sarney's duet with Mr. Punch and 'Gimme Dat Banana' by Black Gorilla both made the 30, was the 'Puss ideology any different? Sadly, the follow-up, "You Gotta Love Me More", was a lame effort with some bloke singing the whole of the second verse. Sacrilege!

Steve Morgan said...

I enjoyed this edition far more than the previous Christmas Day edition, due no doubt in part to its presenters Blackburn and Saville who at least had a little more interaction between them.
As I've stated in other posts, I've really enjoyed seeing these again despite some of the acts and the music, it's been a real joy.
Not wanting to wish our lives away, I know a lot of us are waiting patiently to see the 1977 editions,I know the first few weeks or so of the year will be more of the same, but long may they continue as we all know the year will brighten up a little later along the way.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my fellow posters, especially Simon who's made all this excellent reading. :)

Bobby Morrow said...

I see Billy Ocean has been to the Sheer Elegance yard sale again. I don't know about Love Really Hurts Without You, but from the looks of what Mr Ocean is packing downstairs I'd imagine it would be pretty painful with him, too.

Wasn't this about the time UK fans got a bit brassed off with old Rod? This remarkably fey performance (shades of Barry Blue, God help us) coupled with the A Night On The Town LP sleeve showed how far he'd come from his roots. Georgie is a great song though.

Chris Amoo must have some balls (ala Billy Ocean) to get away with that ensemble. No wonder he had to beef up to walk the streets like that.

I would like to add my thanks to Simon for helming this blog. It's been very helpful as I can now share informative comments on the show with (mostly uninterested) workmates. Thanks to the rest of you too for giving me many a spiteful giggle over the last eight months. I don't frequent this page as much as some of you but I do read every week.

Good Xmas show, then, but wouldn't a best of Ruby Flipper special have been better? Or Top Of The Flops with Sun Fighter, the Surprise and Chanter Sisters, Slik and my new obsession, Mr John Christie!

See you in 1977!

Vintage Reading said...

Very much enjoyed this episode. Billy Ocean wipes the floor with everyone else despite his, ahem, 'conservative' dress sense.
Rod Stewart loves himself as usual. Lovely Sue doesn't get the chance to look through the door to 'Sister Susie'. Short-changed again!

Noax said...

I've not much to say about this one, a few too many videos perhaps but in general better songs than the previous show, and of course you can't go wrong with Jim in Santa mode - may you enjoy your seaside view where you're now resting in peace good sir.

The ones we hadn't seen before were best. Billy Ocean with a decent performance yet again despite not because of the TOTP orchestra, and Sailor. The one to the right of the Nickelodeon (Phil Pickett?) looks a bit like Mark Gatiss. Maybe he now looks back and thinks 'it's a shit business'?!

I've already done my 'best of' and thanked Simon in the thread for the other Xmas show, so I wish everyone a happy Christmas and a great New Year -1977 or 2012, take your pick!

Vintage Reading said...

Should have said, thank you for creating this site, I know how much work goes into this blogging lark. Very enjoyable posts and commentary.

Merry Christmas to bloggers and commenters!

Simon said...

Thanks for all your appreciation, and merry Christmas to you all too. The joy of doing this every non-Sky At Night week has been seeing what everyone else adds and finds over the following days. Onwards together to 1977/2012 - the year Yes It's Number One goes viral!

Simon said...

Tweet of the week, during the Christmas Day repeat: "Why not include the "legs and company" dance routine? Are the BBC ashamed of their blatant sexism on #totp76?"

This at the end of a show which included two Legs & Co routines and before a show which included two more.

Chris Barratt said...

I think, if anything, watching the 1976 TOTPs pints a bleaker picture of the singles chart than it actually was. This is primarily down to four factors:
1) The non-charting Light Entertainment garbage payola'd onto the show that year. Whilst I am under no illusions of the mythical "Top 30 only" qualification had been just that - a myth - for much of the life of the TOTP thus far, the rubbish given peak slots on the show was really obvious for much of 1976. It didn't help that for every musically redeemable poor performance by an obscure act (Chanter Sisters) there was something absolutely dreadful (Glamourpuss, Surprise Sisters, New Edition, Bobby bloody Goldsboro & his "Story Of Buck") being awarded "Record Of The Week" status by that weeks host. This is weighted against a show when you log the decent big hit singles that had very little (or indeed none) profile (You're My Best Friend, Silly Love Songs)
2) The lack of visual appeal of many of that years hitmakers - from image-wise non-entities like Sutherland Brothers & Quiver & Gallagher & Lyle to obviously decent acts locked into terrible fashion (Sherbet). It doesn't make for great televison and, certainly pre-Xmas 74, that had been always served up on TOTP no matter what. Add to this the fact that a lot of the US acts having massive hits that year (and still radio mainstays) such as Dr Hook & Chicago were appearing on badly-shot promos (as well being 'ugly old pa's' (if I may paraphrase Captain Sensible)) means 'no magic'
3) Soul and Disco - this was the chart backbone of 1976. It didn't translate well on TOTP when the tune was either given the flaccid Johnny Pearson treatment which despite the best efforts of some singers (Billy Ocean, Tina Charles & Gladys Knight being good examples) rendered these groovy platters distinctly ungroovy. If the act couldn't make it into the studio to have their snappy tune dismembered by an MOR orchestra, we were served up more badly-lit poorly-shot promo's. Again, not great television
4) The Dancers. I'll be hung, drawn & quartered for saying this by some I know, but post-Pans People the TOTP dancers had little personality (and ergo little point) and most of the Ruby Flipper routines were downright embarrassing. Remember I'm saying this in the knowledge of how good the show was pre-Xmas 74.

The good stuff? Well, plenty of it. I'll mention that stuff that I think holds up well credibly in context - Fox, Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Can, Quo, Johnny Wakelin, Sherbet, Thin Lizzy, Liverpool Express, T.Rex, Climax Blues Band & maybe "UTMOL" by Showaddywaddy (decent tune, decent presentation).

Wellieman said...

Simon - I reckon the first two songs (BoM and BillyO) were new recordings for this year-end review. The Union Flag lights behind BoM have been seen in recent weeks - watch the second Kursaal Flyers appearance - same lights just rearranged. Then the girls at the front of both songs (Eric fans!) had tinsel decorating their hats. Then lastly the hair-style of the dark-haired female Stevens is now bob-ish, reminiscent of appearances to come, whereas back in March/April it was much longer.

Anyway, yes, I'm that bored of turkey I've taken to a bit of detective work! See ya!

Steve Williams said...

Sorry to be a bit late for this one, but the Dr Hook video was a bit different to the version we knew and loved in the summer, because last time I'm sure Ray only arrived for the snog at the end, whereas here their love grew throughout the video. This must have been the PG version, even though this show was on way earlier (two o'clock!) than the regular show. I ended up watching When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman from Xmas 79 earlier and it just illustrates how important Ray Sawyer was to the act as the rest of the band were the most uncomfortable, self-conscious bunch imaginable.

Also, I dunno if anyone else noticed but during The Real Thing the camera angles meant you could see, to the band's left, Jim and Tone's Christmas table, with Jim sat behind it! That must mean the links were done in real time, which seems a bizarre way to go about it when they don't interact at all with the audience and performers and could easily have knocked them off in a separate session. You could also see the Union Jack stage so I'm guessing the Brotherhood of Man was a new performance.

As has been said, the Christmas shows aren't as interesting as the weekly shows but it's been a great way to end the year. And I loved Jim really laughing at the end.

Steve Williams said...

Oh, also good - Rod Stewart inventing Noel Fielding's act.

Simon said...

I stand corrected on the Union Jack stage, as you can also see briefly it in Sailor's appearance and that was a hit a month before the show I suggested. The table is a superb spot, though - via YouTube with the picture quality that implies I've knocked off a screencap. A very encompassing approach to bluescreen technology there.

Makes you wonder about the Christmas Day recording - there didn't seem to be any audience there as after DLT's talking loaf routine you could hear the crew's laughter, but they wouldn't redress the set in a completely different area. Maybe it was extended from one show to two (the Radio 1 breakfast and drivetime DJs helming the big show of the year seems fair enough) and a second recording booked late on, which again might explain the Wings bit at the end of that show. Was Tina Charles stuck up in the gods because she was a very late booking they hadn't prepared for? We can but speculate.

Angelo Gravity said...

I actually saw Our Kid live in the summer of 1976 at Great Yarmouth, possibly the theater on the pier, in some variety show - can't remember too much about it, but they did their You Just Might See me Cry routine, and a couple of others.

Anyhow, here's wishing everyone a happy 1977!

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

The games Jimmy is playing are to represent what we all supposedly did on Boxing Day, ie play board games. And that strange pink thing is the large card he opens later isn't it?

I love the way Tone and Jimmy wait statically like rabbits in the headlights for their cue after the hideous computer generated wipes have finished doing their ghastly business. They clearly weren't told that they would be on camera before these cues and look decidedly odd - well more odd than normal in Jimmy's case.

I agree that the Brotherhood of Man performance was specially filmed as some of the audience have tinsel on their hats (what would the BBC have done without tinsel at Christmas in the 1970s?).

The same tinsel-hatted audience members are present in the Billy 'Bulge' Ocean performance so this must have been done for the Boxing Day show as well. And we can see the same lametta curtain behind Tone and Jimmy after the performance.

December '63 one of the few songs about premature ejaculation, certainly the only one that made number 1. I wonder what the long strands of tinsel the crowd are a shaking are supposed represent?

I don't know why Showaddywaddy insisted on doubling up on every performance they did of Under The Moon of Love, as if there weren't already enough of them on stage.