Thursday, 26 January 2012

TOTP 20/1/77 (tx 26/1/12): records of the weak

"No, don't worry, you don't have to telephone me" reassures a luxuriantly follicled Noel. Bit late in his Pops career to be making Swap Shop references, he'd done plenty of TOTPs even in the three months since the show had been launched.

Slade – Gypsy Roadhog
First time we've seen them, too. With glam but a fading memory already, even Slade are having to dress down. All things are relative, of course, Noddy, shot for the entire first verse in unflattering close-up, sporting a Homburg hat bearing a massive set of peacock feathers, while Dave Hill has gone the fringed cowboy jacket route. Which are fine, but they're no mirrored stovepipe and metal nun, are they? As far as songs about the idiomatic realism of drug abuse go, a hard riffing song in which every second line starts "powdered my nose" isn't entirely subtle. Still, Dave's enjoying himself, all round the place.

Donna Summer – Winter Melody
Having judged the chart "interesting", possibly in the Chinese proverb sense, it's the latest in a long line of anodyne Noel Records Of The Week. In this case it's a live clip with one of those audiences that burst into mass spontaneous applause after the first line, interspersed with a dramatic presentation wherein Donna sits about bored, drinks from a silver goblet and looks at an open hearth fire before, in a nod to the fact it's been stealthily climbing since before Christmas, unhooks and regards at length a massive silver bauble before looking out of a window at some falling snow. The melody goes to prove she can't fully command a country ballad melody, so the soul backing singers and strings are fed in eventually. The next time Summer appeared in both show and charts, it'd be for I Feel Love.

10cc – The Things We Do For Love
It doesn't get an intro link again. Band insistence? The video again, but through the magic of CSO there's a couple of cuts to it allegedly being shown on a big screen while the entire audience ungainly shuffles about, not sure whether you can actually dance to it but willing to give it a damn good try.

Jesse Green – Flip
Appearing from behind the screen, a pan held for the entire first verse which means people keep distractedly walking across the shot, Green hasn't brought his flautist and uncomfortable band this time. What he has brought is his sense of rhythm, which keeps threatening to break out - a little shuffle here, a Bruce Forsyth-style running on the spot there. What he actually does during the break is a triumph of stage minimalism, as some soft shoe shuffling Sammy Davis Jnr style turns into the running man and then just knee and elbow lifting on the spot before some sort of attempt to put one foot in front of the other in sequence as if walking a tightrope. It's the fact you can't see the feet that just about saves whatever shred of dignity he retained.

Elvis Presley – Suspicion
See, Clash, some Elvis in 1977. But not for much longer, and this song was fifteen years old anyway. This, it's fair to say, is one from the bottom of Flick's ideas chart, the girls starting in big white hats and overcoats doing standard moves against a cityscape backdrop, occasionally with a lamppost to lean against, and we pretend (although Noel had pre-empted it in fairness) that some sort of small outfit is underneath and will be revealed in the fulness of time. 45 seconds, that takes, the reveal being red outfits that lie somewhere between Playboy Club corset and swimming costume.

Leo Sayer – When I Need You
There shouldn't be an edit here but there seems to be, Noel on the same emptied set starting "now here's something that makes quite an impression" over badly faded out applause. This is a Noel record of the week too, Sayer reflecting the showbiz glamour of having the breakfast show's priority tune by turning up in his dad-goes-golfing outfit of bright yello jumper, big collar and grey slacks. They put him in the kaleidoscopic rotating lenses when appropriate, but it doesn't help.

Thin Lizzy – Don’t Believe A Word
"Especially for Flynn's new girlfriend Lizzy, this is Flynn Lizzy" What? WHAT? NOEL, WHAT ARE YOU DRIVELLING ON ABOUT? The performance from just before Christmas repeated. Noel doesn't mention their number one bet, nor that you can still see him from that show in the background.

Silver Convention – Everybody's Talkin' 'Bout Love
We've only come across these from that chart picture of three women with their hands on their knees; now it merely transpires they're a poor man's Three Degrees going disco. If the purse lipped spoken word to open is meant to invoke the Shangri-Las, the spangly blue bikini tops and matching trousers with ruffles on the bottom scream 'suburban nightspot'.

David Soul – Don’t Give Up On Us
"Strikes me that everybody's talking about this gentleman..." The video, as you know because he didn't come over once in 1977. This is going to be a long few weeks filling this bit. Boney M play us out with the minimum of fuss. Recorded version. Obviously.

EDIT NEWS: Gary Glitter. Well, obviously Gary Glitter, who was not just some distance past a point where he could have been any influence on pop when he made It Takes All Night Long but had just come back from a retirement to get over not selling any more, being on drugs and having to pay tax. No idea at time of writing whether it'll be reinstated for the unedited repeats (EDIT: yes, it did), but given Jonathan King got an apology off the BBC for cutting out It Only Takes A Minute it's possible, even though the Mirror kicked up a stink-ette in the week only really notable because they assumed the song shown would be Leader Of The Gang. Also hopefully it means people on message boards will stop going "will they show gary glitter lol", as they have been doing ever since the rerun was first announced (EDIT: no, they haven't) A clean edit point means the show can also lose the clip straight after it (EDIT: except it isn't, the episode guide I work off had it wrong, it was after Legs & Co which explains that awkward edit), the Drifters video shown the programme before last.


Erithian said...

Flynn was the milkman (sounding remarkably like Noel putting on a gruff Cockney voice) who delivered his daily pinta to the studio at 7.35 every morning and had a couple of minutes' "banter" with him. A large proportion of the TOTP audience of the day would hav known exactly what he meant!

Arthur Nibble said...

I guess normal service resumes next week (but maybe not the week afterwards), although we were spared GG in the early show, along with The Drifters. Could you imagine having HD 3D telly in those days? You’ve have been ducking to get away from the sweat splashing out of the screen from the cabaret kings. Noel was very attentive of the acts throughout this show – nice to see a DJ paying attention.

Sadly, we’ve seen the last of Mud in the chart rundown. Number 31 this particular week, and never to return. Another big group of recent years were about to hit a sticky patch. Having moved labels, Slade only made 48 with this rather ropey effort, only enlightened by Dave borrowing one of Pussycat’s outfits from last week.

We did at least see some glitter of sorts in the pre-watershed show – was that a jewel-encrusted microphone Donna Summer was holding? Shame she didn’t use it much in the choruses. Lazy beggar.

The sound for 10cc was awful and muddy – had it been taped from a top 20 countdown? Loved the tall geeky bloke in glasses at the front of the studio audience, dancing like a Thunderbird with a broken string.

Apart from throwing in a “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” catchphrase, what on Earth was Noel on about before Jesse Green? 17 climbers, 16 going down – that doesn’t add up to 30 or any logical chart compilation number. Wearing dark mauve, possibly the new year's choice for dungarees and waistcoat / trews two-pieces, Jesse sure missed his flautist friend, and also his skipping rope judging by that dance routine. Talking of which...

In those macs, Legs & Company go to prove that less on show is more – hang on, no, they don’t! Noel warned us about the costume change, but still enjoyable. Were they initially meant to be private detectives working for a suspicious client? Gill’s growing on me by the week – the best figure, and very expressive facially. Harumph, moving on swiftly!

That audience were captivated during Leo’s performance – or had they been cyrogenetically frozen? Superb improvisation by Leo during the instrumental break. Eat that, David Parton! At least we were spared Mister Sayer’s usual Alf Ippitittimus dancing efforts.

Wonder how Brian’s arm was mending after his little altercation a couple of months previously? From The Lizzy’s sublime heavy (light?) metal, we cut to some TOTP Butlins disco, and, shock of all shocks, a Silver Convention single with more than six words in it! Anyone else notice the ginger girl was like Corporal Jones in “Dad’s Army”, half a second behind the others a few times in the routine?

David Soul got me wondering if Paul Michael Glaser ever released any records – and yes, I know he wasn’t Lovebug Starski of “Amityville” fame. The picture of David astride a horse just made me think that Leo Sayer should have been on a Shetland Pony or inside one of those Bernie Clifton ostrich outfits to liven up his act.

Not much of a Brucie bonus for the Popscene folk this week - the mystery play-out was a whole minute of Boney M. Not Steely Dan as I was hoping, despite ‘Haitian Divorce’ jumping ten places. Boo boo boo! The following week The Dan dropped to 31 and never graced the chart rundown again, which is sort of where we came in...

Steve Williams said...

I'm thrilled they showed Gary Glitter, not because it was any good (it was bloody awful) but because now people will finally SHUT UP about it. It's never been about "rewriting history", because Pops was a neccessarily subjective show and we're missing loads because of wiping. They never had to show this and BBC4 deserve more credit than they get from the "The aspect ratio was wrong for the first five seconds, SORT IT OUT BBC" brigade. We've never had it so good.

In John Peel's Bay City Rollers at Mallory Park story (with the BBC Sub-Aqua Club and the Womble-piloted speedboat), he said that while all that was going on, Noddy Holder was standing next to him being completely ignored, and Nod simply smiled and said, basically, "Well, that's us finished". No wonder with records like that.

No surprise Silver Convention hid behind a cartoon for the last single, they were very underwhelming close up. Best bit was Noel staring intently at 10cc.

Chris Barratt said...

I think all of us who value TOTP & archive music TV over Pitch-Fork Revisionism owe Jonathan King for his integrity in being arsed to confront the BBC and the BBC for actually sticking to their guns after years of dancing to Murdochs tune on this most trite of matters (ie when the 52-part "Story Of Pop" presented by Alan Freeman was repated on 6music, "The Story Of Glam" was 8 miutes short as they went to the lengths of removing all trace of GG - ridiculous for a historical documentary aired in the early hours of the morning!)
I think "It Takes All Night Long" is best seen as a comedy number anyway (not that Glitter ever took himself that seriously on TOTP) but I can imagine there were a lot of cups of tea dropped as The Bacofoil Bugger came on screen all seductive....
Slade were great, Leo did well (spot-on prediction from Noel too for once, it was the 3rd best selling single of 1977 in 1977) Legs & Co - definitely one of their better routines & Silver Convention were dreadful (not helped of course by the Geriatric Orchestra).
I will say this for the 1977 TOTP's so far - however dubious some of the musical content is the shows flow brilliantly.

wilberforce said...

well surprise surprise gary glitter getting airbrushed out of the edited early edition - had he not been then perhaps simon could have entitled this episode "all that glitter is not gold"...? like jesse green gaz was (glitter) band-free this time - solo performances always look rather lame to me and i think it makes a big difference having a few extra bods on stage... even if they're not actually really doing anything! maybe the beeb should have employed a few people for such purposes?

the slade song was well below-par, sounding like instantly-forgettable noise in contrast to such classics as "gudbuy t' jane" and "mama weer all crazee now" (have i spelt these correctly - sorry i mean incorrectly?)... a friend (quite accurately) pointed out this was a ripoff of quo, whom unlike noddy and co were still riding high so it's perhaps no surprise they chose to leap on that particular bangwagon, even if in this case it didn't work (a trick they later repeated with more success in the early 80's when they latched onto the NWOBHM* movement). i seem to remember around this time that the bargain-bins were full-to-bursting with slade 45's issued on the "barn" label!

* for those who don't know: "new wave of british heavy metal"

Simon said...

Glitter's on twice more this year, in a fortnight with the same song (second on in the midst of a group of repeats, which'll be awkward) and then in June, and as both shows run long I suspect he'll be cut from the 7.30 version for both just so no Mumsnet-type community kicks off about it (except of course for all those kicking off in the opposite direction at 8pm last night) He's not on again until Another Rock'n'Roll Christmas after that, but the progenitor of all this Jonathan King gets a couple of appearances in 1978, but we'll cross that bridge should we ever get to it.

My source was wrong, the Drifters video was actually on after Legs & Co, which explains that clumsy edit.

Neil Barker said...

This might not be the last time your source is wrong, Simon! We do try our best though, even if some of us do get wound up about 'aspect ratio' and that sort of thing.

I was disappointed that the Thin Lizzy appearance was a repeat as I'd always had it listed as a different performance and was looking forward to seeing it. The same performance is repeated as the first song on 3/2/77 though with a crowd/video screen shot towards the end to get rid of Noel.

Noax said...

Righto then, this was the very definition of a mixed bag I think...

Slade - I thought that Dave Hill had more of a Red Indian look about him, but at least he was enjoying himself, which is more than I was.

Donna Summer - So...when Donna popped in to speak to Kid Jensen a few weeks back, what exactly was she doing? Not recording a performance of this obviously. It's very weird to hear her doing essentially a Country song about Winter with a Christmassy video.

Jesse Green - Can we start an internet rumour that this song was going to be called F**k until the BBC banned it? No? It'd be more fascinating to do than listening to this, which is presumably why Jesse tries to liven it up a bit with some 'interesting' dancing.

Elvis - Now we're talking. This is my fave Elvis song, probably because it was the first one that I'd ever heard. I can't remember why on earth it was released this late though. The flasher mac routine would have been more surprising had Noel not flagged it up but was still quite..erm...engaging. Speaking of flasher macs brings me to...

Gary Glitter - I totally agree that it was correct to show this, and to edit it out of the early showing so as not to get all Daily Mail readers on the BBC's backs was probably also fair. It was ridiculous, given that these shows are simply a historical record of good, bad, and ugly (make your own jokes!) to edit Jonathan King out of last year's shows.
Channel 5 showed a clip of Gary Glitter in their Xmas songs rundown (very briefly admittedly) and also, IIRC, didn't edit out the Jonathan King section when they showed a random old Xmas Pops (85?) the other year.
As for the song, I have it on VHS from the repeats on UK Gold years ago as I enjoyed it for comedy reasons with the leering, staggering around on stage and lame attempts at being sexy. Less funny now obviously.
Incidentally, unless the second performance of this was different and I recorded that one, there may have been a *slight* edit at the end of this I reckon. It just seemed to cut much earlier than I remembered with some overlaid applause. Maybe I'm imagining things.

Silver Convention - With performances with zero sex appeal like this it makes you wonder how they had more hits than the likes of Thunderpuss. I think Pete Waterman promoted them, which may be why.

Angelo Gravity said...

Just watched the Saturday night showing ~ firstly, Slade just look totally out of place in 1977 - thats pop for you I guess - their glamrock era had long gone by this age of disco.

And Glitter - god he looked so young - at the time he seemed so old - now I'm older!
God how depressing!

Also I have to admit that I'm actually now wetting myself with excitement every week in anticipation of these repeats!

Another also - has anyone else noticed that on the BBC trailer for the Olympics there is the Top of the Pops logo? Are they planning a Top of the Pops Olympic special or are they hinting that the show is going to be relaunched this year?

Neil Barker said...

Noax, the 20/1/77 edition was never repeated by UK Gold so it will be the second performance of "It Takes All Night Long" that you're familiar with. Dreadful song but I'm still glad it was left in.

Steve Williams said...

The reason the Pops logo is in the Olympic trailer is the same reason why they keep bringing it back for Comic Relief and the like, because it's a famous old BBC brand like Morecambe and Wise and they're happy to use it to garner nostalgia and goodwill everywhere and anywhere. Apart from on a new series.

Anonymous said...

I agree Albert, Gill is absolutely bloody gorgeous and just keeps getting better and better. Shame Simon hasn't amended his identification error re the start of "Car Wash".

Arthur Nibble said...

...and I'm Arthur, not Albert! 1-1, going into extra time! ;-D

Ruby Tuesday said...

Dear Suefan, just wondering who is your favourite Legs dancer?

Oh and looks like Simon has granted your wish. Sleep well!

malmo58 said...

Watched some of the '76 shows last year on and off, began regular viewing just before Christmas. TOTP 1977 is now the highlight of my week. I was 5 at the time so used to sit in front of the telly while it was on but didn't fully appreciate it, delighted to have the chance now.

Gill is my favourite too, very sweet and lovely.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Arthur.

Thanks Simon.

I always do Ruby.

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

Re watching some of the old shows waiting for the next one to come along. Some of the songs sound better the second time around.

Winter Melody isn't really a country song it's a soul ballad, the original album version is over 6 mins long.

The GG song was in two parts on the single which might explain why it fades so quickly.

Am I right in thinking that Haitian Divorce was banned by the BBC at the time which would explain its non-appearance on the show?

Re Jesse green I thought it was ironic that it was really the instrumental 'flip' of his debut hit (Nice and Slow) that was the hit but they always allowed him to perform the vocal version on TOTP. Really it's his band including the flautist and the guitarist in the cowboy hat who are the stars.