Thursday, 19 April 2012

TOTP 7/4/77 (tx 19/4/12): boxing clever

"Time to come alive with some hit music and jive!" You have to give Kid Jensen this credit, without resorting to props or idiocy he comes up with something new to open every show. There is, however and sad to say, little jive about the show. Just in time for their final week in the top 30 the show has updated its Rubettes picture, the old five piece in the caps and suits gone in favour of what looks more like the cast of a dropped after one series northern based down at heel ITV detective series, except for the one wearing a pilot's uniform with cap.

Dead End Kids – Have I The Right
We also get a first look at their chart rundown photo this week, which is an awkward pose chiefly for Robbie Gray pointing at us with one index finger and the bandmate his chin is resting on the shoulder of with the other. It's a several tiered performance space this week with the guitarist pulling some classic rock poses unbecoming his band's style. Gray has his braces on as before and his tubular bells in place, but he's playing them far too casually and misses the last one, or at least the last hit before he's supposed to break off. Meanwhile one camera pull-in shot from behind the drummer not only exposes how few people are there but also gives the cameraman opposite a clear focus, as well as... is that some sort of boxing ring set up behind him? Hey, maybe they'll be using that later or something.

Deniece Williams – Free
Kid makes great play of the fact there's two clips from the venerable Soul Train on the show this week, maybe something he shouldn't have promoted too much given it shows up the paucity of new songs in the studio, and for that matter the classy simplicity of the Soul Train studio, a bare wall, a lit performer, an ostentatiously branded glitterball and an audience who seem into it. Plus not even Billy Ocean would think of pulling off a light blue dress liberally equipped with sequins and matching skull cap. As for an in-house dance troupe, theirs are pushed off to the sides and unselfconscious, one couple hand in hand, certainly nothing planned out. And it's the original recording being used as backing. No wonder Johnny Pearson's boys were often made out to be a culture shock to Pops visitors.

Showaddywaddy – When
Speaking of which, from sleek sophisticated soul we emerge quickly and sharply enough to lead to a nasty case of the bends in the synesthesiac shape of a set of brightly coloured jackets, a honking sax and some comically boss-eyed bass vocal interjections. There's something very pinch mouthed about Dave Bartram's face when singing, isn't there?

Elkie Brooks – Pearl's A Singer
Described by Kid as "a regular joint", one he's been playing on his Saturday morning radio show at that, the set designers are determined to add some class to the joint to go with the bands' suits and Elkie's swish dress, this time with a big plastic tree behind the piano player - who, for the record, looks a bit like John Lennon during the bed-in, in the same way the guitarist looks a bit like Denis Law and the drummer looks more than a bit like Kevin Godley. As before, when required the Ladybirds appear and disappear on requirement.

Cliff Richard – My Kinda Life
"This face really needs no introduction" indeed. You'd think Cliff would be readily available when he had a hit around but this seems to be the same performance as last time, complete with opening lively disco lights, hopeful bopping and break air guitar.

The Manhattans – It's You
After a fade edit that proves it's not just BBC4 who can be cackhanded at that sort of thing, it's another well drilled soul outfit, this time with backup singers indulging in a lot of pointing. One to the left, then once to the right, always over everyone's heads for that less than personal touch. Not quite sure how to approach this, the middle youth sections of the audience, who by today's standards look about 35, try to look enthusiastic by shifting from side to side indifferently.

Maxine Nightingale – Love Hit Me
And so Legs & Co are in a mock ring in singlets and shorts - with their names on the right cheek! Surely meant for single use, those - with boxing gloves on. It's another Flick Colby literalism triumph. And it is a triumph, partly because it's not complex dresses and moving round in circles again, but because while no sparring move or comedy punched face - aye aye, Lulu - is left spare it's lovingly worked out. And let's face it, where thrown punches are involved the timing has to be pretty good. Eventually Lulu knocks everyone out in turn - Rosie sells it best, but Patti's side grin to camera immediately before being KO'd is a winner - then celebrates before turning to find Gill waiting with a decisive right 'ander. As everyone gets back up and boogies to an unsatisfactory general climax the camera shot pulling away reveals that of all the people gathered around Kid, young, old, male, female, the only one watching the routine is a bald middle aged man. Ah, walking cliche.

O.C. Smith – Together
Back to the Soul Mass Transit System and Smith, in a brown suit from the remainders at Debenhams, completely missing miming his spoken first line until after it's been and gone. He doesn't get a lot better at it, especially when joined by an invisible female singer. Maybe it's Barbra Dickson. After that it's Kid's call to duty in the new Short Awkward Chat Before The Number One, this week Elkie Brooks making sure to call Kid "Kid".

ABBA – Knowing Me Knowing You
Kid describes this to Elkie as being in "a position we'd all like to see you in in a few weeks' time", a phrase loaded with double meaning. Elkie at least remembers what it's called, unlike some people, and accompanies it with a local radio DJ point at camera. Kid adds it's "week number two for week number one. Number one. Or something." Retake, surely? Video again, Smokie to end, and between Kid gets his own catchphrase wrong. "From me it's good love, have a great week". Goodbye and good love, Kid! *Goodbye* and good love! Tch.


Arthur Nibble said...

Another erratic night for the BBCi Player. From having to wait till the Friday a few weeks back, to simultaneous coverage last week, to tonight’s effort, when the internet edition only started halfway through Elkie. Tsk!

Touch of class by the Dead End Kids’ drummer – matching hooped top and drumsticks. Also a more assured performance than the occasionally monitor-gawping guitarist and the pianist, playing what looked like a different song in a different tempo. The singer reminded me of an uneasy hybrid of Bay City Les and Alvin Stardust.

The “Soul Train” clips were intriguing, seeing audience members (?) dancing at the same raised level as the singers, and no threat of ball-balancing Daleks as per that recent clip from “Top Pop”. I wonder if American TV ever reciprocated and followed Deniece or OC with a clip from TOTP? Imagine cross-Atlantic jaws dropping at the sight of, say, Showaddywaddy, who must have been the ‘jive’ part of Kid’s intro.

Dave Bartram’s gurning, twirling and general demeanour made me think he’d have been a great fit as a CBBC presenter or host of “Take Me Out” if he was 35 right now. By the way, how come the ‘Waddy guitarist was allowed to break ranks and wear a red shirt instead of standard issue black?

Elkie showed it isn’t just DJs who get the song titles wrong – “Knowing Me And Knowing You”? Tut tut, Elaine! While I’m at it, why wasn’t AfroPerm Man with her tonight? Such a dull version, even the bassist didn’t bother with his jaw-jutting sideshow.

Now, what was that Manhattans song called again? Couldn’t quite get it from the lyrics. No wonder this stiffed in the 40’s. Still, at least the suits and (admittedly sometimes out of kilter) movements put last week’s Stylistics efforts to shame.

Funny how Smokie’s song was the fade-out (another entry for Popscene to note down) – were they more than five miles away from the studio this time, or was the producer fed up with them having what felt like a weekly residence in the studio?

Saving the best to last, what a routine from Gloves & Co. What made Flick come up with that idea? A refreshing change from the norm, and the gals seemed to enjoy enacting their roles, but I felt it was missing a certain something – maybe the return of Floyd as referee?

Steve Does Top of the Pops said...

It's strange. Overall I didn't really enjoy this week's outing while I was watching it but now, a few hours later, I have a strange affection for it. It must be down to Legs and Co's boxing and Kid's declaration of what position he wanted to see Elkie Brooks in.

Loved the Manhattans' dancing. Just a shame I can't recall the song at all.

Angelo Gravity said...

The highlight of the show this week for me has to be the Legs and Co routine - what a knockout!

Steve Williams said...

It's been too long since we had a daft Legs and Co routine so that was ace. As well as The Rubettes getting a new chart pic which they'll never use again - it seems to come from their previous hit, this time last year, when Alan Williams was dressed as a bus conductor - Brendon's new picture is absolutely terrifying.

An oddly staged performance by the Dead End Kids, which the guitarist in front of the other guitarist. And someone had to lug the tubular bells up to the highest platform, to little effect. Someone should have told him that he didn't have to stare straight down the camera every single time he sings, we can work out he's the singer.

OC Smith looked a bit like a black David Copperfield off Three of a Kind.

THX said...

Obviously Flick decided what Legs & Co had been lacking all these weeks was gratuitous violence. But it was more exciting than the previous week. Great "face acting".

Romeo Challenger chewing again? I hope he's brought enough for everyone.

Nice to see Forest Whitaker on vocals with the Manhattans. And O.C. Smith before he formed The Adverts - talk about a drastic image change.

I wonder if Kid had to point out those clips were from Soul Train because we couldn't avoid noticing the big, shiny "SOUL TRAIN" logo above the performers?

Arthur Nibble said...

No, I think Kid had to point it out to the viewers, who might otherwise have been confused by reverential audience participation in comparison to the stare / shrug / putting out a small fire variations in the TOTP studio.

wilberforce said...

i have two very contrasting musical memories regarding the two soul train clips: i hated "free" back then when it was a hit but love it these days, and whilst i had no prior recollection of "together", as it went on it became naggingly familiar... is it just something that's been dredged out of my subconcious or did someone else have a bigger hit with it?

also, kudos to legs & co for performing an entertaining and potentially disastrous routine in front of a "live" audience, even if their efforts didn't seem appreciated...

Simon said...

Someone rather unexpected has turned up in the 24/3/77 comments...

Anonymous said...

Lulu at c20.16. What a saucy minx!

Noax said...

A strangely uninteresting edition this, even The Kid seemed a bit all over the place.

Nice to see the return of the first bit of CCS being chopped - haven't had that in a while. The Brendon rundown pic is enough to make me want to pack away my recently purchased Widescreen TV and bring the CRT one back, it's that scary.

Dead End Kids - No, it's still awful.

Deniece Williams - Definitely high on the list of 'songs people totally forget were Number 1'. Not sure how it got there actually, because it's nothing special really.

Showaddywaddy - Best performance on the show by a mile. Again.

Elkie Brooks - Or Crystal Tipps as I like to call her. A big dog companion would make this a bit more interesting actually, especially as big afro guy appears to have been sacked. Unless he just lent his hairdo to the Dead End Kids singer.

Cliff - Roll on the Alan Tarmey era, that's all I can say.

The Manhattans - I'm a bit confused by this. They seem to actually be in the studio, and clearly visible. There was me thinking you could only ever see them through smears of vaseline. As far as songs that go 'You' a lot, it's nowhere near the top of the pile. No.1 spot belonging to the Jim'll Fix It theme of course.

Maxine Nightingale - As others have said, this is ace. Thankfully annoying Pauline takes a back seat here. Patti is my favourite now I think, and she gets some good comedy business here. By the way, let's all be thankful that DLT wasn't on this week as there is NO WAY that he would have got out of that ring for the duration of the song.

OC Smith - Now, last week I was asking about this song as I thought I'd never heard it. Someone (sorry, can't remember who) said that it was good. At first I wasn't that impressed, and then it got to the chorus and I thought 'I know this!' Like Wilberforce, I cannot work out how - it doesn't seem to have been covered, so was it a TV theme tune or something?
I particularly enjoyed his costume, which appeared to have been made from the covering of a leather pouffe which someone had then sewn together to make a jacket.

Wellieman said...

The Dead End Kids really were going down a dead end with this image. Definitely at least two years out of date Bay City Rollers look. Did their manager not read the music press which by now was heaving with punk and new wave imagery?

Urggh, sorry, now onto Deniece Williams. I'm afraid it is still near the top of my least favourite songs list, along with Loving You by Minnie Ripperton and Silly Games by Janet Kay (amongst others). Unlike Wilberforce time has not softened my dislike of this song. At least the Soul Train visuals were interesting... Deniece's Viking style helmet and hairdo. And did anyone catch the dancer at the back with the 'T' on her t-shirt tucking herself in mid-way through?

It goes without saying that the 'Waddy were top notch. I always liked their stuff and enjoyed their performances, but not enough to buy any of their records though! Still, plenty o' people did. Did Romeo Challenger actually play the kettle drum or did they do a rendition of Under The Moon Of Love as a warm up for the audience?

Imagine what a high Elkie Brooks must have been on. After 10 or so years in the business plugging away she finally got her hit record. She seems to be purring like a cat! No wonder she was happy when Kid asked her to introduce the No. 1 song. I like the Cristal Tipps comparison by the way, Noax!

Like my co-commentators above I too didn't think I knew Together but also recognised it from the chorus. What a weird lot of brain cells we have...

Arthur Nibble said...

Have we really managed to catch Brendon's bassist? Reel the devil in - let's get some more 'juice'!

wilberforce said...

how strange that 3 of us here have some hazy recollection of oc smith's "together" but can't place where from! like the others i recognised the chorus - maybe it was just played a lot on the radio at the time, one of those songs that is pleasant without being special enough to acquire or even make the effort to remember...?

Dyonn said...

Haven't they be using clips from Soul Train for quite a while now? There have been clips from some American show before anyway.

I'm liking Cliff's late 70s stuff more and more these days. So quite a few good songs this week I thought, much better than last week.

Let's see what kind of Jive we get next week!

WeddingSuit said...

You did snag me. This thursday I may be wearing a floaty cheesecloth number and have borrowed my next door neighbours (bass in Uriah Heep) fender Jazz for extra credibility. It's the last Gimme Some. We come back in May for a single show (Rock Me) then it's all over..

Arthur Nibble said...

...ah, but the memories linger on!

WeddingSuit said...

As in get a real job ! In my case back to university. As far as memories go that's all we have as we had no VHS in 1977 so have never seen the next 2 shows.

Arthur Nibble said...

WeddingSuit, I noticed on the net that Brendon's now in a group with former band member Dsve Levy called Simple Country Folk - I assume they're called that because they/you originated from Troggs country, i.e. Andover? How difficult did you find it combining university with a pop career?

WeddingSuit said...

Became an enthusiastic amateur. Ended up with an degree in electronic engineering designing broadcast studio equipment. The Troggs first manager was Brendons uncle and our first London gig was supporting them at the Nashville. Back on the TOTP note I dug out some old camera scripts for you guys to see. The second one is this weeks show and the first is more detailed and shows just how much is not really live/mimed/recorded.

ps. Travelled up on the train with B today.

Arthur Nibble said...

I couldn't get the second attachment to work, but, as for the first....

WeddingSuit, this is absolute gold dust! It gives a whole new insight into the making of TOTP that I'd never been aware of. Huge thanks for sharing this with us. I'm sure Simon would consider making you vice-president of this blog as a result!

WeddingSuit said...

Strange. 681 even opens on an iPhone. Might be a cache issue with the ISP. Try again later. I think I have another one for Rock Me at home somewhere.

So now you know why they don't change the sets a lot in a single series. It means they can re-use the VT spots and as there weren't enough stages to go round even in a regular week it was a mega timeshare event on recording day. Still you got to go to the BBC bar on the top floor and hang out with the other bands, assorted newscasters and Legs and Co.

And on the Dead End Kids, they'd stuck a poster of themselves on their dressing room door so we'd all know who they were.

Dyonn said...

Fascinating stuff, Thanks Mr. Wedding Suit!

(I love the dodgy typing)

Neil Barker said...

Thanks a lot for posting these, Mr Wedding Suit! Interesting to note that the Three Degrees performed a cover of Boz Scaggs' "We're All Alone" that was never broadcast!

Wellieman said...

Hey WeddingSuit, thanks for posting your recollections for us and looking forward to your appearance on Thursday! Looks like there's a toss-up between Leo Sayer and Mike Nesmith. I won't spoil it for myself and have a sneaky look, I'll wait for the surprise.

Arthur Nibble said...

It's Dave! We've snagged Dave!

The following is taken from a site I've never heard of until today called Black Cat Bone...

"Back to Brendon, this is the blurb for his Simple Country Folk album released in 2009...


The last time you heard them play together was in 1977.

This was a good year for Brendon. An album of Folk ballads on UK Records and a top 20 dance single "Gimme Some" on Magnet at the height of the Disco era. Dave was the bass player in Brendon's band in between A-Level classes.

Two famous labels, one run by Jonathan King, the other by Michael Levy (now Lord Levy, no relation to Dave though) Savvy guys in the days of real vinyl singles, Jimmy Savile fronting TOTP and Mrs Thatcher about to come to power. This was the UK at its grittiest. Punk on the horizon and an economy on its knees.


So what is this album all about ?

I'm guessing it's a late stab at a bit of musical honesty. When you are 22 and the world is telling you what to do, your musical direction can get diverted. The immediate success can be hypnotic and sometimes the real music gets lost in the machine.

So 30 years later, an album. Maybe this is where we would have been had "Gimme Some" not charted. Hand crafted via email and stolen hours at weekends in otherwise busy lives.

Dave makes VFX for cult Sci Fi show Dr Who and music videos for the uber famous acts who weren't even born when we were strutting our bad lapels on prime time TV. Brendon shares and runs a business."

Methinks Mr. Levy has been hiding his light under a very big bushel! Sounds a very talented and unassuming chap.

WeddingSuit said...

Ah yes. Now your pasting my copy. It's all up there on the SCF site which was born out of our 30th TOTP anniversary get together and a desire to put the record straight. It's all about being old and angry. Still we're looking back through the BBC4 portal in 5 minutes. Should be embarrassing. On a train so it'll be the midnight show for me. Don't hold back on the sarky one liners guys...

Elsterpie said...

Think mr wedding Suit would rather we link to relevant sites than paste them. Dont want to provoke Levy's tears.

From the camera scripts, the following occurs:

i have sung on stage but never got near to even regular gigs in a bus shelter but i could imagine i would be very vexed if I had to a) be accompanied by j pearson och and b) be drowned out by the Ladybirds screeching. Yours was a mix of track and och whereas the Dead end kids was track only. (and one was disc whatever difference that was). What was mandatory and did you have a choice?

And in the 31 to 50 section, some long forgotten aces: Fatback band double dutch, cerrone love in minor c , queen tie your mother down and bazza qualified to satisfy