ALERT! Top Of The Pops 2 is back for a fortnight only, every weekday from Monday, BBC2, 6.30pm. Don't expect too much out of the way stuff, it's a limited run in prime-time after all, but good to have it around.
Dave Lee Travis in charge this week, getting straight down to business, no messing about. Yet. And... hang on, what's this coming over the hill?
Marquee Moon's only top 30 week, so obviously punk's not having to happen yet. Well, it's difficult to know what even Flick would have done with its monolithic nature. Deep Purple's five years old Smoke On The Water is at 27. We never see that on the show either.
Contempt – Money Is A Girl’s Best Friend
But we do get this. What it is... well, it's a mystery for starters, as cursory online searches find next to nothing about them. Not even the son of its producer, the great Martin Rushent, could come up with anything when someone asked him. Contempt clearly not breeding familiarity. So all we have to go on is the music, and that's tricky enough. They've got vaudeville aspirations, the open shirted guitarist seems to have got lost on the way to a prog gig, the drummer sports a magnificent bushy beard and the singer is in full City gent costume with furled umbrella. Very much in the Sensational Alex Harvey Band lineage, then, especially when the singer unveils the sort of vocal style that would seem slightly overdone in regional musical theatre. Then it briefly turns into then-recent Queen with a three-part harmony. Quite a bit of Cockney Rebel too. Then there's an acapella harmony on the line "open up the goody store". By this point, not unreasonably and just before the slow-then-quickening waltz time section with widdly guitar solo which turns Greek, audience members are looking as practically bemused as they can. Eventually it has to be faded out. It is, fair to say, one way of opening a show.
Rose Royce – I Wanna Get Next To You
Ah, something sensible. Something cheap too, as Legs & Co are split into factions this week and Pauline gets a solo spot in an area that appears to have been fenced off with pink toilet paper hung from the lighting rig. Two white roses in her hair and lots of arms to sides pouting is how it goes.
The Detroit Spinners – Could It Be I'm Falling In Love
As we pan from DLT to stage we see two girls wearing tartan scarves that are the very same length that they are, one with 'WOODY' in white lettering down the middle, the other 'LES' likewise. Wrong week, girls. And maybe they should stop chatting to their mates apparently not noticing anything else going on and turn round, because there's a fulsome display of music and movement going on. Matching predominately mauve suits, lots of spinning round and changing places, and behind the Ladybirds (we have to assume) doing completely different moves, which makes them noticeable but then even more so when they're inaudible for a few seconds too many. Obviously the blaring orchestra stomp all over its subtleties, but the mid-section, while the Pearson timing does send it a little out of whack, allows the Spinners to show off their full move set - an elbowy cartoon-like full stride creep, a hop while spinning with jacket tails in the breeze, a two steps to side and kick, and a bit where the rest give Bobby Smith the floor to show off his solo moves and then look at each other as if to say "did you see that?" By the end, oddly, we can hear the Ladybirds over the harmonising Spinners but the latter's handclaps are coming over fine.
10cc – Good Morning Judge
From the first album after Godley and Creme had left. They, of course, became major players in the development of the pop video. This is a video, and it's not contributing to the form's major development. It does, however, include the following: Eric Stewart in a neckerchief and tan jacket, a 'jury' of chromakeyed multiple Stewarts and Graham Gouldmans in wigs and facial hair and both men (Gouldman spends the bulk of the bits not shot on location in a white wig pretending to be an American judge, for some reason) pushing away their stands to reveal electric guitars for soloing upon.
Rags – Promises Promises
As previously mentioned, Rags are kind of an embryonic Bucks Fizz - one of the girls managed them, the other wrote songs for them and their failed Eurovision bid with this song included a skirt ripping-off sequence. Maybe that's what DLT is thinking of as he makes the sort of face introducing them that he usually saves for Legs & Co. In fact they're literally wearing rags, stylised ragamuffin outfits at least. Just as you wonder whether they're no so voluminous they can't actually move in them they get cast aside in favour of light blue outfits, leading to some classic light pop shimmying, incorporating some synchronised head ballet, that actually seems a little ahead of its time. Four Eurovisions ahead, I suppose. "It's going to be Noel Edmonds' record of the week next week" DLT threatens early risers.
Joe Tex – Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)
Frankly, taking clips from Soul Train is making TOTP's efforts all round look even lamer than normal. Everybody struts their stuff to its utmost, the performer has the original recording and loads of space to work with, and if you get some sort of latent anti-genius on it results in something like this (apologies for the Wright):
Some points of note: the woman side of stage posing a threat to low flying air traffic from 0:49, Joe's belief that convincing miming is something that happens to other people, the people you can just see in silhouette behind the caption at 1:25 bending forth and back from the waist in unison, his clever move with the mike stand nearly backfiring and endangering lives at 2:11, and of course that ending. Imagine if DLT had had to take that role. IMAGINE.
Kiki Dee – Night Hours
Still sitting down. In the round with an acoustic guitarist sporting Farrah Fawcett-meets-Dougal from the Magic Roundabout hair Dee has some people spellbound and several looking at the monitor instead.
Billy Ocean – Red Light Spells Danger
DLT has found a hard looking man with a beard. What transpires is not pretty, involves both mockery and forgetfulness, and can be seen here. That might be the only reason why in a show in which everything else bar the number one is new to TOTP this has been kept in, unless it's the presence in front of Ocean of Gill and Rosie turning and pelvic thrusting for all they're worth in short tops embossed with flourescent red dots, intended (we must assume) as stop signs. They've got more red circles hanging off their pants-as-dancewear. Even their clothes are literal interpretations. For Ocean's sartorial part his jacket design is somewhere between tartan blanket and Axminster and that collar could still make him fly away one windy day.
Barbra Streisand – Love Theme From A Star Is Born (Evergreen)
"There's all sorts going on here - they're all after my cheese butty, look" quoth DLT, who proceeds to take a bite. What's happened there? Put it down between takes, man! You've got three minutes a time! Inevitably, he links into the video with his mouth full. Being simpler days, there are people who find this hilarious. I say video, with Kris Kristofferson staring intently at her it's more likely to be a clip from the film.
Uriah Heep – Wise Man
DLT introduces them sitting at their feet, John Lawton sadly not taking the opportunity to clout him one. Prog? At this stage of proceedings? Well, not really, they were a heavy rock band by this stage, new frontman Lawton falling between two stools with a mighty orcs-ahead vibrato, Rob Halford-presaging leathers and eyeliner as his band walk through the usual big rock ballad business. The kids just look confused.
Van McCoy – The Shuffle
A third helping of the Legs & Co select committee. Patti's still off recovering from what Floyd put her through so it's Sue and Lulu making the best of McCoy's second attempt to make a flute-driven instrumental work in tight bellydancer outfits, maybe because that was all that was left over, from within what seems to be one of those growing frames you find in allotments.
Barry Biggs – You're My Life
We should know better given Biggs ran with the pink ruffled ringmaster suit as the previous last word in fashion, but he's dug right down to the bottom of the basket this week and emerged with a lime green marquee-like shirt which may even be partially transparent. With a large part of the audience behind him and some actually watching him instead of the monitors he slowly ascends a set of steps as we look back at him trying to look back at us all lachrymose while studying every step in turn in detail. Once he gets halfway up and finds his little stage he turns round and makes like he means every word to a crowd who may or may not be listening. Just as the camera pans down to DLT a floor manager runs across the shot.
ABBA – Knowing Me Knowing You
"They've been there for 34 years and they're going to stay there for another 34 years" claims DLT. This was the last week, fortunately, though in terms of popular culture in general he was far more spot on than he'll ever realise. He then does a Swedish accent, which makes one girl giggle. That's all she wrote, DLT crashing into the vocals of Rod Stewart's The First Cut Is The Deepest, which in a beautiful piece of historically chart referencing scheduling on BBC4's part is followed by a trail for Punk Britannia (starts 1st June).