We're still very much in the teething stages of establishing what sort of pop musical year 1977 will be, and it really doesn't settle down for a few weeks yet. David Soul and Boney M may be emergent already, but around them is still a certain amount of mush and shots in the dark. The dark, coincidentally, is where Tony Blackburn was told his combination of lumberjack shirt and straight-from-the-bin-round brown jacket with big lapels would best work.
The brown Cortina, registration NCP 303P, must have had a thorough wash by now. Could the BBC not be bothered to ask the label if they had anything better?
The Brothers – Sing Me
Starting with recent Opportunity Knocks winners, which puts them on a level par with Bonnie Langford and Little & Large, who like these men also adapted their Knocks-conquering routine into reggae. You have to make time to watch their first Op Knocks if only to admire the harp and vocal trio and wonder how anyone was supposed to judge cting against music. The Quality Street Orange Crunch wrapped-coloured shirts have been retained now alonsgide scarlet trousers, albeit without the matching jackets for the full effect, and they're taking this post-Nicholas reggae to the masses with much less exuberant stagecraft, the instrument head waving and livewire moves having been used up at Hughie's behest. It's a litany of bad metaphor, from ships to kites, where obviously "I come down when you pull my string". Tony moves his shoulders in some approximation of rhythmic motion in the background. Tony is keen to mention that they actually are
David Parton – Isn't She Lovely
"Talking about singing things, here's a lovely song..." There's a link that wouldn't work on the page, and barely works out of the mouth. Yes, it's that man again, still with eyes firmly closed and expression forcefully pained. The boys one side of the stage bop about expectedly. The girls on the other side are nonplussed, as well they might be. And let's watch that mid-song break stagecraft in action: some very forceful handclapping, what seems to be him putting his fingers to the corners of his mouth in a 'smile, bastards!' motion with no great facial joy, going across to the other side of the stage only to find they aren't interested either, giving the rose from the lapel of his white suit jacket to a random girl, wandering off the stage to press two sets of flesh, and back for the climactic verse. The camera nds up focusing on a girl near the front who clearly does not want to be seen swaying to this song at all, especially not on national television with her mates watching. The director lingers on her to teach her a lesson. "Isn't she absolutely lovely" Tony renames the song before predicting it'll be a number one sound. Its imminent fall was inevitable from that moment.
The Eagles – New Kid In Town
Not the most immediate of songs to give the Legs & Co treatment to, which may be why Flick opted for the opaque. Hanging around outside mock Victoriana shop fronts, one of which advertises 'CEGARS', in frilly dresses, big hats, long gloves and fur stoles may not have been what Don Henley and Glenn Frey quite had in mind but the relaxed pace allows for some character work you don't tend to get in Legs routines. Patti alone pulls four different expressions in her first three seconds on screen. The loose story framework is surprise and intrigue at Lulu, who gets many solo routines in portraying, well, a new kid in town. At the end Sue and Pauline find acceptance of her anew.
Barry Biggs – Sideshow
The shoehorned into pink frilly suited effort from the pre-Christmas show. Given how much specialised editing has had to be done to cram as much as possible in this week it's a mystery why they didn't just leave this out...
Status Quo – Wild Side Of Life
...or this on its third appearance. As the intro, in which Tony asks of an overmade-up woman "it's your birthday today, isn't it Barbara?" before hijacking her low-key celebrations by mentioning it's his own birthday coming up (January 29th, in fact) and he's "looking forward to being a teenager", of course. Afterwards he appears to suggest he was having "a really good truck".
Mr Big – Romeo
Not the Mr Big who did To Be With You but a band who make Smokie look like Black Sabbath incorporating a man who just stops himself short of complete falsetto and a poodle-permed co-singer, both of whom consider "step back inside me, Romeo" to be a winning approximation of subtle kinship mentality. The keyboard player has an open leather jacket with nothing underneath, the bassist is sporting a Panama hat. It's a complete mess of imagery.
Andy Fairweather Low – Be-Bop ‘N’ Holler
Tony calls it "Be-Bop A Hula", which is something else. In fairness it's not a song heavy on either be-bop or hollering but does feature two drummers, one of whom seems to play nothing but rimshots, and Fairweather Low seemingly singing through a closed mouth - not in miming, in the sound of his voice. Just in front of Drummer Two someone seems to have turned the dry ice machine on full setting and just left it.
The Moments – Jack In The Box
For some reason as Tony introduces this video clip the camera focuses for a long time on an empty stage shrouded in artificial mist as if something or someone is going to emerge. And then they don't and the director remembers to cut to the clip. The three Moments are wearing pink suits! They wouldn't be allowed anywhere near the club lounge they're performing in today in those. As their fine range of facial hair and a tremendous tight afro soul up a storm - "it sounds like a game but it's a dog on a chain"? - the fake screen projection returns. Someone in a cardigan right in front of the screen could kill with the ferocity of his shoulder thrusts if he doesn't learn to control them properly, but the producer's not thought this bit through as to the side of the screen we get to see people emerging from backstage. Two appear to be being marched out. Two others, sitting down throughout, embark on a play-fight. Eventually someone who looks like he'd be in Madness in three years' time starts hopping from foot to foot. Meanwhile back at the Moments an older woman sitting on grinning appears for a couple of seconds and disappears again without explanation. Tony mentions it was his record of the week, not wanting Noel to have oneupmanship.
The New Seekers – I Wanna Go Back
"We haven't had a new record from the New Seekers for a long time" Tony confidently states. Seven months, Tony, that's how long before they'd last been on the show. A classic Pops trick sees Eve Graham's head merged in over the hole in an acoustic guitar being plucked for the intro. This line-up involves two acoustic guitars, an inaudible electric bass and a lot of swaying from foot to foot in time, not to mention a hell of a truck driver's gear change. Are they playing this live? It cuts off early, and not before time.
David Soul – Don’t Give Up On Us
"Do you like David Soul?" "I think he's lovely, yes". That's fortunate. Video, clearly, a quick goodbye and Rose Royce play us out.
EDIT NEWS: Ten songs in half an hour! No, it didn't really flow well. Should have been two out, really, to stop the piecemeal mid-song cuts and repetition but just Julie Covington again. We've seen a suggestion this has been cut twice - and the week it went to number one has been lost, though she's on again at Christmas - because of Argentina's current Falkland sabre rattling, but that seems somewhat hasty. Maybe it's been cut because the montage they're using is so deathly dull.