Thursday, 19 January 2012

TOTP 13/1/77 (tx 19/1/12): it gets better

And we're properly off as we mean to... no, not go on, David Hamilton's presenting presence isn't indicative of a go-ahead attitude in and of itself. The first new chart of the new year reveals a whole host of new photos, including Donna Summer in a furry hood, all of Status Quo except the drummer looking off to the left of camera, a snapshot of a Cortina going through a suburban car wash for Rose Royce - that may not even have been a file photo - and most notably John Christie, because a) it means enough people liked Here's To Love to send it chartwards and b) he's wearing a T-shirt with a golliwog on. We've seen a golly before on the reruns, there was one on Marmalade's bass drum skin, but even given the unfortunate associations since those days it's a curious thing for an earnest singer-songwriter to be donning in his big promo shot.


Gallagher & Lyle – Every Little Teardrop
As with Sheer Elegance last week, this would be the last we'd see of the duo of MOR punchiness, new brooms and all that. They weren't to know, which was why they splashed out on a two man brass section, one a saxophonist in a big hat and Hawaiian shirt of low advisedness who seems to be miming along to a trumpet part. The presence of an organ as well as Lyle (or Gallagher)'s electric keyboard means they can spread out right across the front of the stage, but all the bopping on the spot in the world can't make it sound like someone heard a Steely Dan record I can't quite place right now, probably one from 1977's future for all I know, and decided to recreate it in a toned down fashion. Diddy reckons it'll be "a big one for '77". It reached number 32.

Barry Biggs – Sideshow
Performing under a spotlit spider, Biggs has left the pink ruffled shirt at home this time in favour of a soberly coloured suit but he's still wandering awkwardly up and down a very small area of a big stage. At the end a big pan out crane shot gives us a glimpse, sequestered away in a corner behind some loosely held in place boards, of Johnny Pearson and a couple of his orchestra, for the first time in this whole repeat series. Union demand?

Rose Royce – Car Wash
"And the splendid chassis you see belong to Legs & Company!" So put Diddy down as one who uses the full name. We start with Sue and Lulu Gill in Smith & Jones head to head fashion, albeit they never wore caps, stuck their tongues out at each other (ad lib?) or were generally female. The pan out reveals they've blown the month's design budget on an illuminated 'CAR WASH' sign, some arrows on the floor and four rotating brushes, while the girls are outfitted in small fringed ponchos, leotards and knee socks-cum-woollen legwarmers. Give or take a tiny skirt or six, this is pretty much what you imagine Legs & Co wore every week if you didn't have direct documentary evidence. The ensemble is, helpfully for people like me who get confused, topped off by a hat with each dancer's forename on. It's a quick way of garnering individual personality, I suppose. The routine is the kind of ensemble piece Flick always did for disco, involving a lot of work in parallel lines, wandering in and out of the middle and general jumping back and forth before a spot of synchronised movement from the elbow upwards. "A bunch of cheeky girls" adds Diddy, both referring to the amount of gluteus maximus on display and accidentally opening a mind portal to a very different future form of female pop interjection. If only he'd known.

David Parton – Isn't She Lovely
"There's a very controversial record out at the moment - I don't know who started the controversy" says a man who must have somehow been aware that Anarchy In The UK had only the previous week been withdrawn by EMI and so on balance someone rush-covering Isn't She Lovely because Stevie Wonder wouldn't put it out as a single. Then again, we are talking about a middle aged man with a chicken in a basket cabaret circuit type walrus tache and largely pink striped jacket with clashing half-open shirt underneath whose facial expression as he sings suggests he's also in the middle of a bad bout of constipation, eyes closed and everything, though in this context that looks a trifle mocking. And he's not so much singing as shouting to a tune, not entirely capturing the subtlety and swing of Stevie's vocal style. Like Paul Nicholas, his idea of filling the break is to run round in a circle. He then blows a kiss to the audience, absolutely fails to get them to clap along with him and then picks out two unfortunate girls to kiss the hand of. At this stage he resembles a politician trying too hard to look populist at an overlit rally. By the end he's pointing at the camera.

Status Quo – Wild Side Of Life
Or "Wild Wild Side" as Diddy calls it. Same video clip as last time, Quo obviously being far too big for the show at this time. Unlike the 80s, when they became really successful and would pop in at the drop of a key change.

Liverpool Express – Every Man Must Have A Dream
Billy Kinsley, here bedecked in one of Slik's castoff US college jackets, was wearing the band's own T-shirt in their rundown shot. "There are quite a few new entries in the chart this week" commends Diddy, introducing a song we've already seen. Different performance, because all the festive touches wouldn't have made sense this far into January. The drumkit doesn't seem to have moved since Gallagher & Lyle set it up. Still, kit sharing makes it easier for visiting bands. Somehow the massive ending seems even more jolting against the rest of the tune this time.

Pussycat – Smile
Oh, they're back alright, for one last curtain call. It's much like the big hit, except less so. Everyone looks slightly more scary, we get better shots of the frontwoman's gap in the front teeth and there's lots of fringing on yellow dresses going on. Nowhere, however, is a gun used as a slide, and that's where their studio work falls down.

David Soul – Don’t Give Up On Us
Soul had a big 1977 and didn't come over for single promotion once. It's as if he had a big hit TV show to film or something. Lots of baleful looks to camera and overlaid shot fades going on, as well as a still photo of a man on a horse halfway through for no reason at all. Back in the studio the audience has formed a gangway in front of their beloved leader Diddy for the final link, although they're not so respectful that he doesn't have to admonish someone for pulling on his trouser leg. After he's made a very strange high pitched "woo!" noise waving us goodbye, I Wish under the credits gives Stevie a PRS double.


EDIT NEWS: Ah, an old friend. The video to Julie Covington's Don't Cry For Me Argentina was all that we lost, strange when there was a video we've already had on the show kept in the edit. We should see it again anyway, at Christmas if we don't contemporaneously.

(By the way, 1977 is the year on Pick Of The Pops this Saturday)

35 comments:

Neil Barker said...

Gallagher & Lyle actually made one more visit to the TOTP studio, but we'll have to wait another year to see it (if we get that far).

Arthur Nibble said...

First off, ridiculous scheduling by BBC4. 2-and-a-half-hours of TOTP on New Year’s Eve, then nothing the following week. Why not show the first TOTP of 1977 last week to fill the gap? I wonder how many potential new recruits were left puzzled by getting Patrick Moore instead last week and have now given up?

Less is more, Gallagher and Lyle, less is more. No need to overload the verses with too many lines per words. Was that the only rugby top the lead singer owned? I’m sure we’ve seen it before - probably not washed since last time either, which is why his Rich Hall prototype partner’s well down wind. At least he’s in view, unlike the other keyboard player - past the drummer, turn right and carry on for half a mile. Nice to see an overly pointy Diddy give us an early first crap chart prediction for the year.

Better dress sense this time by Barry, and a much better effort for this song by the BBC as well, giving us the full song and no skipped notes before the chorus, even though the orange shirted Star Trek extras that are the orchestra do their best to hash this up. By the way, didn't we also see them in the last edition, just before Gladys Knight and the Pips? Always thought that, if there’d been a Reggae Stylistics, yer Baz would have been nailed on for the Russell Tompkins Jr. part, minus the ghastly stare.

Enjoyed the “Car Wash” routine, as indeed did Diddy, judging by his ‘cheeky’ remark afterwards. The sort of outfits Sheer Elegance (Remember them? Sniff) would have worn if they were women. Good thing Diddy wasn’t in the studio for “Maid In Heaven” otherwise he’d have turned into Les Dawson’s Cosmo Smallpiece character. Good slick choreography, obvious enjoyment in performing the routine, and a cheeky wink by Gill front stage right. Marvellous!

The only thing controversial about David Parton was the choice of both diagonal and vertical stripes in his outfit. After The Beatles’ “Michelle”, this must rate as the biggest own goal by an artist, refusing to release a popular track as a single then seeing some chancer(s) have a massive hit with it. David’s routine during the instrumental break struck me as a subtle blend of Paul Nicholas and Nigel Havers.

No Julie Covington – quite pleased, really, never liked the song – but we’ll get plenty more chances to hear it in due course. Yip yip. Skip to yet another conveyor belt Quo performance. Did they choose all the future singles off an album before it was released, then decide to knock all the videos off in one take lasting 15 minutes?

I can’t hear the pretentious majesty of that Liverpool Express song without hearing “Cheese and Onions” by The Rutles in my head. When he sings “I used to be a dreamer”, I bet he was tempted to follow it with “But I’m not the only one”. When it started, I had a horrible thought that John Christie was moonlighting on piano to make up for missing out on a second solo appearance.

Pussycat were beige, both visually and aurally. The drummer’s hi-hat hand seemed to show more energy than the other six stage sloths put together. They reminded me of a pack of Rich Tea, the dullest biscuits on Earth. I bet old Hutch would have shown more stage presence had he bothered to turn up.

I recall reading somewhere that Davey started out as a masked singer on American telly, a bit like a tuneful Kendo Nagasaki. He sounded a bit chipmunk-like (maybe the video was a tad fast) but, being an actor, he knew the value of emphasising certain looks to the camera. How times change you – when I was 15 I thought this song was soppy but now, less than a month before my big Hawaii moment, I think it’s really well crafted. Nice Brucie Bonus getting a 45-second dollop of Stevie Wonder after this – the other bespoke TOTP site I follow didn’t show this in their listing. Looking forward to next week, with any luck!

Suefan said...

Hi Simon, as ever enjoy reading your take on the replays but, as ever, you go and make a mistake in your Legs write up. Sue and Gill, Gill not Lulu, start the head to head.

Keep taking the tablets!

Neil Barker said...

Hi Arthur. Would that other TOTP site you follow be Popscene by any chance? We didn't even know that Stevie was the playout track until this evening. It's great to be able to fill in a few gaps :-)

Arthur Nibble said...

Hi Neil. Yes, it is indeed Popscene. I tend to cheat and look up what's on the next week's edition so I can get geared up for it. Popscene's also the site where I first found out about Glamourpuss, so you can blame them!

Does anyone one know if we're still going to get monthly gaps for "The Sky At Night" this year? If so, it'll be difficult cramming in virtually a whole year's worth of episodes. Had it been up to me, I'd have filled the four weeks' gaps with classic TOTPs from other years.

Steve Williams said...

Presumably, when we get to April and make up the four weeks we'll lose with wipings, they'll move The Sky At Night to another day, there are plenty of other slots for it.

After Kid Jensen's quickfire session last week, this one plodded along, especially in the full version with the "video" for Don't Cry For Me Argentina, which was simply a load of slowly changing slides of Eva Peron and must be the dullest thing ever broadcast under the Pops banner. Thank heavens the episode where it's number one has been wiped. I dunno what the show's obsession is with dull Quo videos either, we had Mystery Song a couple of times and now the second of three showings for this identical one.

No matter how much David Parton closes his eyes he's not going to be Stevie Wonder. I thought he had a touch of the Rick Dees about him. I liked that lovely pan of the studio which ended up focusing on a stray dangling wire. Second shot in two shows for the orchestra, maybe the Musician's Union had been moaning so they wanted to prove they were there.

Only one Diddy show left, I think, and I'm going to miss his pointing and excessive use of the phrase "across the nation".

Steve Williams said...

The other thing about this episode, of course, is that is was the only episode of Pops from the seventies to be repeated in the seventies, as exactly a year later there was a strike and they showed this again. Except they started it from Barry Biggs because it was too long.

Steve Chapman said...

Just found your site when googling the 'controversial' comment made by Wiggy. Interestingly if you play this you tube version of David Soul, not only do you get the full intro but if you sync it up to the TOTP showing, the later speeds off into the distance. It's more than a 'tad' sped up.
This would have been down to one of two things, either for timing reasons or (most likely) due to a video standards conversion from NTSC to PAL which, due to the frame rate, in those days without modern converters would make everyone sound like chipmunks. If you ever saw the original showings of Star Trek Next Gen on BBC2 you'd be amazed how different the actors sound.

One final thing, why are you reviewing the early 'cut' showing and not the late night 'uncut' version? Still not sure why they can't just stick to showing the full versions each time.

Steve Chapman said...

Oops, forgot the David Soul link....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY8APrYU2Gs

Go on play them together!

Julie Joanne Bevan said...

Gallagher and Lyle's "Every Little Teardrop" reminds me somewhat of Steely Dan's "Reeling In The Years".

Benny Gallagher (the "Rich Hall prototype" who plays keyboards) and Graham Lyle are, I'm pleased to report, back together - and will be touring Scotland in March. Even though I live in Liverpool, I'll be going to see them in Edinburgh.

I wish BBC4 would repeat their appearance on "Sight and Sound In Concert" from Aylesbury Friars. I remember it fondly; the encore was "When I'm Dead And Gone", in which Benny used a harmonica on a holder. They're my favourite band EVER!

Chris Barratt said...

This may be the last time we see Diddy Do The Pops on BBC4 - he hosted it once more on 31/3/77 but this show was wiped... but has subsequently been recovered from Diddy's own collecion along with 3 other (early 76) wiped shows he hosted. Whether or not 31/3/77 is broadcast on BBC4 will be a good test of Mark Cooper's post-Jean Genie commitment to us anoraks in showing recovered footage. Whilst domestic recordings complete with simple continuity, the Hamilton recoveries are in broadcastable quality but will obviously need the correct mastering/resto work for broadcast.
The show was a tad dreary - Gallagher & Lyle showing us 1976 was definitely their year, 3 great hits being followed by a dreary dud and the Pussycat performance was little more that a snoozesome ordeal. On the plus side, great to the Mk3 Cortina make its debut in the chart rundown (very Life On Mars!), Barry Biggs allowed to perform his classic Sideshow in full (second verse was omitted last time around) and what can I say about David Parton? When he suddenly started running around like a hyperactive toddler in the instrumental break I cracked up! I have to confess to loving all of the David Soul hits, and it was good to see Hutch at #1. Don't Give Up On Us was the best selling single of 1977 in 1977 (Mull of Kintyre overtook it - and then some - in early 78) and David was the best selling singles act of 77 and very much face of the year.

The Angel and the Dreamer said...

I'll miss Diddy's hilariously hopeless chart predictions, but after all he was only being polite, you couldn't expect him to say "That sounds like a disaster to me!" after a new tune was debuted on the show.

The Man said...

I wonder if Benedict Cumberbatch will release a romantic ballad single...

Anonymous said...

Steve Williams is wrong - another 70's TOTP was repeated in the 70's - one from 1979, from 2 weeks earlier, due to a strike, featuring Sparks "Beat the clock". On that occasion of course 2 or 3 of the tracks would have been in the intended version.

wilberforce said...

i see there's already been a big response to the first show of 1977, but perhaps not surprising as we've been denied our retro pop fix since the new year (i happened to catch a bit of "the sky at night" that was shown in the show's absence - patrick moore has now turned into mr creosote!)

with regard to our host, you'd think the minimum requirement of what is let's be honest not a very difficult job to do is to get the names of the acts and songs right - in addition to his quo-pas (geddit?), he also refers to that as-dreary-as-ever evita song shown in the extended edition as "don't cry for me for argentina"...

i'm a big steely dan fan and am very familiar with most of their work, but although i could kind of imagine donald fagen singing the g&l tune in his own unique style, nothing obvious came to mind (maybe it was ripped-off from one their few tunes i don't care for)... anyway, talking of the dan, i don't suppose "haitian divorce" ever got a play on totp despite its chart entry? probably not even danced to by legs & co!

someone watching the show with me remarked on barry biggs (and i'm not using this as a cover-up - credit where credit's due) that you'd expect a guy with that build to sound more like barry white!

"car wash" must win the award for the song with the longest intro ever to ever get in the top 30...

despite his blatant opportunism david parton gets some kudos from me as he created (and co-produced with tony hatch) a fabulous piece of faux-funk for the UK equivalent of the drifters, stylistics et al sweet sensation in the form of "mr cool"...

as pussycat did a "brian poole" by following up their big number one with a virtual clone (maybe they should have renamed themselves "copycat" ho ho) then no wonder it sank without trace - perhaps having something remotely resembling a big hook like as in "mississippi" might have helped...

that still of man on horse halfway through the david soul video (unlike arthur, i find this song just as nauseating as the first time i heard it!) comes off the back cover of his first album:
http://www.discogs.com/viewimages?release=904252
i know this not because i owned a copy, but because i have seen it so many times at charity shops and car-boots over the years!

Arthur Nibble said...

Hope you enjoy G&L in March, Julie. Personally, I preferred some of their songs which were either too early for this re-run or didn't qualify for a showing. I enjoyed "I Wanna Stay With You", and I loved "Shine A Light", and I was disppointed the latter never made the chart.

Wilberforce, I'm afraid there's no outing for "Haitian Divorce". Real shame, as I'm partial to a bit of Dan and that's my second fave of theirs after "Reeling In The Years". Of course, they were indirectly responsible for naming Deacon Blue, but you can't have everything.

One strange thought entered my mind when I listened to "Isn't She Lovely". As the song goes on, the baby's no longer 'less than one minute old'. Maybe the lyrics should have been amended to less two and three minutes old later in the song?

Wellieman said...

Must step in and defend poor old Julie Covington. Sorry to go against the popular opinion here but I (now) absolutely love DCFMArgentina! I say now because for many years after it was released I too thought it was as dreary as hell. But something changed and I struggle to listen to it now without the old goosebumps making an appearance. The other song that springs to mind for me hating it back then and loving it now is Nillson's Without You.

Anyone else got examples of their own musical taste reversal syndrome?

Neil Barker said...

It's possible that "Haitian Divorce" by Steely Dan was the playout song on 20/1/77, though it could easily have been Tina Charles, 10cc, Boney M or the Eagles too. We'll find out next week anyway.

wilberforce said...

off the top of my head, the most obvious song that i didn't much care for if not exactly hated that i have learned to love over the years (although still not to the point where it's even my favourite queen track) is "bohemian rhapsody"... apart from being turned by constant exposure, the fact that it was re-invented in post-modern irony style by the "wayne's world" movie probably has something to do with it...

ps - in my youthful ignorance, when i heard david parton's version of "isn't she lovely" (i had no idea he was cashing in on stevie wonder's refusal to release his paean to his new-born baby as a 45), i thought he was singing about his "bird"!

Simon said...

I am of course leaving these factual errors in for people to pick up on in the comments like the Early Times used to do. Ahem.

Steve Chapman: the cut version is all that goes up on iPlayer, and it allows me to get the recap up quicker. When they come to cutting out full performances from the half hour slot (which seems to be because BBC4 want to keep the evening schedules easy to follow), as they may well do next week, that might prove a greater issue but that's a bridge to cross in time.

I don't think Steely Dan ever did appear on Pops, though that'd be a lot of studio equipment to ship over for one three minute telly spot.

Incidentally, those of you not reading On This TOTP Day really should, as that'll be taking workload related precedence over midweek filler on this blog, though I'm going to try and get the odd special post up over the year.

charlie cook said...

Julie Covington was in the unedited midnight showing.

Arthur Nibble (again) said...

Simon, no worries about the odd 'typo'. You make a glitch here and there but, if any of us followers tried to do a critique in your place, it may well be more error-strewn and it simply wouldn't be as gripping. I know your comment was in jest, but you do yourself down, sir. Without you and this site, my life would be a hell of a lot more boring. As the motivational poster says, Keep Calm And Carry On. ;-D

PS - Sorry for my unintended domination of the comments for the last two weeks, Could some other people please drown me out? While I'm here, very pleased to see some new names on here, including the poster using a line of 'Don't Give Up On Us' as their tag. Nice touch.

wilberforce said...

arthur, as far as i'm concerned your comments are always entertaining and welcomed, so don't feel you have to hold back!

Neil Barker said...

Oops, 10cc won't be the playout song as it's already featured in that edition anyway. Doh! I reckon it was Steely Dan anyway.

Neil Barker said...

Sorry, used 'anyway' twice.

The Angel and the Dreamer said...

@Arthur: I've posted occasionally before, but can never think of a clever name to use, so I improvise something silly. Maybe I should stick with the Soul man tribute?

The comments here are great, anyway, this whole blog is an excellent enhancement to a TV highlight of the week (except when Patrick Moore dominates).

Noax said...

Wellieman - The most obvious example of a complete turnaround of opinion regarding a song that I can think of is probably 'Annie's Song' by John Denver which has never been remotely cool but which I now appreciate for the beautifully produced pop song that it is.

So, this week's TOTP 77 then - a little after the event for me as I've been away this weekend...

Barry Biggs : Much better this time round, and obviously rehearsed unlike last time's slipshod effort! The orchestra not owning a synth still renders the 'Bzzyooowww' bit useless though...

Julie Covington - Zzzzzzzzzzzz. This drove my 5 year old self mad and it drives me mad now. I can only remember the endless still photos so I presume she never bothered to turn up to do this. Mind you, I remember her being on show about 1977 (probably one of those old C4 Top Ten things) and she seemed completely bonkers anyway.

David Parton : Am I the only one who actually likes this? Yes, the 'explosion in a dolly mixtures factory' suit and stagecraft leave a lot to be desired but I think he actually sings this very well (arguably better than the actual recording!) and his version has one definite plus over the original - no bloody baby noises!

Pussycat : While clearly not as good as Mississippi, I had a memory of this being at least passable. Hmmm, it really is poor. Most of the group look a bit rough too - bad ferry crossing or, ahem, something else?

Chris Barratt said...

Slightly sad to think this may be the last time we see David doing that bloody thing with his arms at every link... but never mind, before the year is out we'll have Peter "Enthusiasm" Powell jumping up and down "Woohoo!"

Suefan said...

Simon I don't know if you have read my earlier comment as regards your mistake in identifying Gill as Lulu at the start of "Car Wash". Of course it's your blog, warts an all, so you can do as you please but it would be the done thing for you to amend your mistaken entry. Rather disrespectful to Gill if you can't be bothered.

Anonymous said...

They're going to show Glitter. The inevitable negative publicity will lead to more people being aware of the show, therefore more people watching, therefore greater likelihood of the show carrying on longer. So good news - sort of.

Arthur Nibble said...

The BBC probably have little option about showing Gary Glitter, because Jonathan King complained about being edited out of last year's re-runs and got a public apology from the head of the Corporation.

wilberforce said...

further to my carping about diddy announcing the names of songs incorrectly, according to this week's observer he's still up to his old tricks as stadium announcer at fulham fc... last weekend after the cottagers beat the toon 5-2 he informed the crowd the final scoreline was "fulham 5 newcastle 0"!

still, i suppose he can at least use senility as an excuse these days...

Vintage Reading said...

"Like Paul Nicholas, his idea of filling the break is to run round in a circle." Heh.

Not the best episode to sit and watch with two sniggering teenagers who kept saying "Is this what you used to listen to?"

Suefan said...

Thanks Simon.

Julie Joanne Bevan said...

Gallagher and Lyle's recent gig in Edinburgh was the best concert I have ever attended. They performed all their hits as a duo and both the McGuinness Flint smashes, as well as 'How Come' from their stint in Slim Chance. Benny can STILL hit C5 in 'I Wanna Stay With You'!

Also on the set list were 'Breakaway', 'The Runaway', 'Stay Young' and 'A Heart In New York', the latter having been recorded by Art Garfunkel and Garth Brooks. The duo also revisited some of their early acoustic numbers such as 'Dan' and 'Remember Then'. Their performance of 'Willie' was flawless, Graham taking lead vocal and playing acoustic guitar while Benny sang harmony and played mandolin with a harmonica on a holder.

I was lucky enough to meet them at the after-show party in the bar; they both agreed with me when I told them that Rod Stewart should have recorded 'I Believe In You'. I look forward to seeing them in concert again.