Friday, 18 May 2012

TOTP 28/4/77 (tx 17/5/12): do the bump

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).


THX said...

The audience didn't dance to Billy Ocean, in spite of visual prompting of how to do so from a third of Legs & Co, they didn't dance to Rags even though it was jaunty enough for a boogie - but they did attempt to groove to Contempt! Maybe that's what put them off, nothing like an angry and confused audience for TOTP.

Also Joe Tex's lyrics may be enduringly ridiculous, but the sight of the Big Fat Woman entering stage right and acting them out was comedy gold, I tell you.

Sounded like there was only one Spinner microphone turned on, but you could hear the backing singers fine. Were they really The Ladybirds? We've seen them before and unless they had head transplants...

Matra Rancho said...

I enjoyed the way DLT's Swedish accent "joke" ironically segued perfectly into "#no more carefree laughter". Also - the singalong 888 Ceefax subtitles for Contempt included information about the tempo of the song. "PACE INCREASES" was the stark message at one point.

Steve Does Top of the Pops said...

In theory this was my favourite TOTP1977 so far, as there wasn't a track I disliked. I even liked Contempt for their wilful lack of commercial sense.

Strangely though, the show left me feeling oddly unsatisfied. I sort of see this edition as TOTP's equivalent of the White Album; lots of good tracks but not quite gelling into a unified whole.

Vintage Reading said...

Joe Tex and his big fat woman indeed. He weren't so skinny himself!

Glad that lovely Pauline got a solo dancing spot for a change.

Billy Ocean best in show as usual!

Chris Barratt said...

Is it me or were 10cc, Joe Tex, Abba and even Van McCoy sounding streets ahead of the other tracks featured? (Billy Ocean of course hampered by The Pissed Pensioners of the Pit)

Arthur Nibble said...

It’ll be really poignant when we get to “I Feel Love” soon.

Apologies first - I won't be sorting the watershed wheat from the chaff and, not meaning to rain on Simon's parade as his comments are foremost and far better then mine, I'll be doing a 'trucker's gear change' and analysing the
latter shows' acts almost in full.

First show of the night a real spring clean with only two oldies. 11 songs shown, three omitted, sadly including Rags – by the way, did the judges get to watch the 1977 Song For Europe entries on monitors or was it sound only for everyone?

I watched Rags later and was disappointed they'd ditched their USP. Might have made this song a hit. Still, a rarity for a Song For Europe failure to even make TOTP - this was a 'breaker' and peaked unoffically at 57 (so, it probably made about number 75, then).

No wonder the web’s schtum about Contempt. An awful “Cabaret” / Queen tempo-fidgeting muddle with a sub-Paul Nick. Vying with 1776 for the worst song of the entire run so far for me.

Not overly fussed with Pauline’s solo effort amidst the Andrex stalactites. Cherry’s chopped rendition of “Misty Blue” was far more emotive.

How did that stage stand up to the Detroit Spinners and their own Ladybirds? Hilarious that none of the male back-ups' mics appeared to be real. You could see seven open mouths and only hear female voices.

Protruding nipples! Copious wigs! Hidden guitars! Thoroughly enjoyed 10cc.

Joe Tex – comedy disco barely a step up from “Disco Duck”. As for Kiki and Night Hourszzz…..

Subliminal moment after the classic “Who’s next?” “Dunno – I’m asking you”, I think there was a bloke who’d ransacked Rod Stewart’s wardrobe somewhere behind an alluring Gill and Rosie.

Loved Barbra (that was indeed a clip from the film) but, for a horrible moment, it looked like DLT had joined her. By the way, any sound engineer worth his salt would have cut that vocal take and restarted due to the noise made by all that kissing!

No Uriah Heep or Van McCoy early doors, but caught them later. The Heep's singer must surely be in the end-of-year polls for his pre-Robert Smith make-up, earrings and lace-up! Also, I assume that was WeddingSuit's neighbour on bass, the one who lent him the double-neck!

Couldn't understand why Sue and Lulu were dressed like Arabic belly dancers for a Philly number but, even more confusing, here comes Country Baz! Not Mr. Biggs’ finest song or shirt by any stretch, I half expected Val Doonican to walk on.

After moody Abba, another Popscene file-completing moment as Rod gets the playout. It’ll be the Pistols’ turn soon - er...

Noax said...

What an utterly weird show. It was like going back in time to one of those mid-1976 shows : a terrible non-hit opener, lots of other non-hits, strangely unsatisfying (as has already been said)

Contempt - bass player looks like he's from a pub rock band, the guitarist from a glam band, and the drummer from Heatwave. As for the singer, he's presumably walked in from the House of Commons. Extraordinary, in every way.

Rose Royce - Not doing it for me, I'm afraid. An average song, my least favourite member of Legs & Co, and some bog roll.

The Detroit Spinners - Well, this is somehow euphoric and shambolic at the same time and at least everyone is enjoying themselves. The song's OK, but the least important part of the equation here.

10cc - This is better, a really good song and a fairly amusing video too. One of the Graham Gouldmans in the back row of the jury somehow looks exactly like Richard Ayoade!

Rags - I was watching this and thinking that it would make a brilliant Eurovision song. So I was quite surprised to find out that it nearly did (or was this mentioned a few weeks back? in which case maybe the thought lodged in my brain) and although I don't mind Rock Bottom, I actually think this is better.

Joe Tex - Highly entertaining stuff, though they've edited it surely? Joe is certainly going for it, and the comedy fall is in best Terry and June sitcom style.

Kiki Dee - Lovely Kiki, lovely lovely Kiki. Apparently there was a song going on as well, can't say I really noticed.

Billy Ocean - Where did he get all these mad outfits from I wonder? Unfortunately this is another clumping version by the orchestra with over the top backing vocals so not as enjoyable as it should be.

Barbra Streisand - I really don't know what anyone sees in this woman. One good song, and that was thanks to the Bee Gees.

Uriah Heep - Boring.

Van McCoy - Good song, though the outfits are weird and this one really would have benefited from having all of the girls together. Where's Patti this week anyway?

Barry Biggs - What a weird way to choreograph the song. Not particularly interesting either, the only way to improve this would have been to have a whole in the stairs and Morecambe and Wise standing by to replace an item of clothing (that shirt, say) with something amusing.

After our familiar number one, they can't get to Rod quick enough, can they? Proof perhaps that even the producer wanted DLT to shut up.

Wellieman said...

This show took me back to typical 1976 fayre... the opening number being a real no-hoper. Yes, very reminiscent of 1776, but not as good. The bass player couldn't stop looking at himself in the monitor; sorry they lost me when they do that.

I knew there was something not quite right with the Detroit Spinners that I couldn't put my finger on. Then I had to check... they had turned up four years too late to perform this song which was a hit in 73. No wonder I had it placed in my mind with Barry Blue and Wizzard.

I'm pleased Arthur has informed us that Rags was a Eurovision entry as that was exactly what it sounded like. I don't mind admitting I enjoyed this, much more than the dreadful Rock Bottom. The girls reminded me of Julie Driscoll and Helen Skelton and the boy perhaps Mike Nolan's older brother? Perfect Eurovision in fact, shame they didn't get through.

I kinda like Kiki Dee but agree she needs to umph it up a bit. Another lass, like Elkie Brooks, who'd been plugging away for a decade or so without too much success (Elton John duet aside of course).

Now I think this is the first time I'd ever seen Uriah Heep after hearing about them for years. Not what I'd expected visually or musically. Thought they'd be more like Jethro Tull visually but their song was a Powerballad ten years too early. Wouldn't have sounded out of place in 1986 performed by Marillion or even Bon Jovi.

The rest? 10CC great song, cringey video; Babs Streisand yuk; Billy Ocean didn't notice him too busy watching Gill and Rosie, Van McCoy could never tell the difference between this and The Hustle.

Finally BazBiggs I was waiting for him to trip up and fall unceremoniously back into the crowd. Ha. On that thought.....

Simon said...

In fact, it's now occurred to me who the drummer in Contempt looks like - E from Eels when he occasionally sports a big bushy woodsman's beard. Have also noticed the song contains the word "machinations", which has to count for something.

charlie cook said...

Very curious show. 5 songs I've never ever heard before - and in the case of Contempt that's a good thing! Lot of girls without bras as well - shows how distracted I was from the music...

Arthur Nibble said...

Much appreciated, but Simon should take the credit for Rags, as he mentioned them in the "European Union" strand a couple of weeks back, though I had heard of them before and later discovered the "Song For Europe" TV strike hampered the intended effect of their visuals (please scroll down the blog and read "European Union" for a fuller, better told story than I could attempt).

Arthur, let someone else have a go... said...

Sorry, forgot to mention this just now...

It's amazing what you find out on the net. I had no idea that Television's "Marquee Moon" was actually over 10 minutes long and was split in two for release as a UK single (radio friendly 3:30 A-side, more intense 6;45 B-side),

Simon said...


wilberforce said...

were contempt trying to cash in on the success of "cabaret"? if so then they were about 5 years too late. also, may i throw the singer's (bowler) hat in the ring as the latest totp lookalike - in his case it's zoe wanamaker...

the detroit spinners (so-called in blighty thanks to "our" spinners, the arran sweater-wearing scouse folkies who had to bill themselves "the liverpool spinners" on the odd occasion they performed stateside) are this week's token identically-dressed black soul vocal group (yawn) with one doing all the work whilst the rest do next-to nothing - i really don't know how these guys had the nerve to get on stage... only in this case they've decided even four passengers/hangers-on aren't enough, and draft in their own version of the three degrees to boot! you would have thought with so many geezers hanging around that at least one would have a decent set of pipes, but going by this performance it's obviously not the one chosen to sing this song. also, when they do their handclapping thing at the end, notice the guy on the right who (unlike the others) is holding his mic in his hand and waving the other one around in the air as if to say "i'm the real lead singer in this band you know!"

it is assumed knowledge that macca was the first pop star to make use of multi-overlay techniques in his 1979 video for "coming up", but this one clearly shows that 10cc (along with leo sayer) got there beforehand - an amusing idea to have the newly-halved band members (shouldn't they have renamed themselves 5cc?) as half-a-dozen alternatives of themselves in the jury box - shame they didn't think (or weren't daring enough) to drag up for a couple! as for the music, well, i hardly noticed it so either the video was too clever for its own good or the song was just instantly forgettable...

did rags borrow their cloaks from the dr who costume department? also is anyone else uncomfortable seeing women with skinhead/close-cropped haircuts like the one here? perhaps if the other one had followed suit it might at least have made a good gender-blurring contrast to the pretty boy (and richard clayderman/patrick juvet clone) in the middle with his tumbling blond locks. watch out for the pullback shot near the end of this - a girl in the audience turns away from the performers with a despairing look on her face, and appears to mouth to camera something along the lines of "when the f*ck is this sh*te going to end?!"

Mervy said...

The bass player with Uriah Heep is Trevor Bolder, not his first appearance as he would have been on with his previous band, the spiders from mars. He's still playing with Heep currently. The guitar player with Kiki is possibly from the Elton John band, Davey Johnstone?.

wilberforce said...

i think kiki's guitarist chum is davey johnstone as well - probably no surprise given that they were both employees of one reginald dwight from pinner at the time... the song itself was apparently actually written by kiki herself, but it certainly sounded like one of reg's dirges (it was co-produced by him) and probably featured his backing musicians...

Arthur Nibble said...

Looks like Rags swapped labels from Euro-era RAK to MCA at one point, by which time the crop-haired girl had grown it out a bit but the bloke had lost his shirt (oh dear)...

Note the group was so poor, they couldn't afford a decent surname amongst them and had to use Christian names as replacements.

80sBlokeInThe70s said...

Detroit Spinners "Could it Be I'm Falling In Love" (as covered in the 80s by David Grant & Jackie Graham)was back in the charts at this time as part of a 12inch EP - but this appearance was just post their legendary lead singer Phillipe Wynne (supposedly the best ad-libber in the business) had left them). Anyway thought they put in a good energetic performance tonight slightly more disco than the usual Philly-style groups when we've seen them on TOTP.

Rags: this was on loads of shows at the time - didn't see it tonight but remember the short-haired one at the time I sort of thought she looked like a lesbian (when I was too young to even know what a lesbian was).

Quite liked the 10cc video although it extremely/purposely cheap in many ways eg the way that what were obviously London streets (complete with NCP car-park) was doubling for America.

Ditto the Leo Sayer - for some reason this makes me laugh especially Leo falling through the air

Rose Royce, Joe Tex and Van McCoy (although nowhere near as good as 'The Hustle'), Abba and Stevie Wonder all good.

Barry Biggs ok and I thought the TOTP girls looked genuinely entranced with him when all gathered around the steps at the beginning.

Not a bad show except for DLT - how excruciatingly unfunny can one man be?

wilberforce said...

thanks to the sterling detective work of arthur i now know the long-haired girl in rags was nicola martin, who later went on to become the svengali manager/songwriter/puppet master of bucks fizz... so therefore a case of from rags to riches ho ho!

FishyFish said...

A couple of good lookalikes on this show, with General Zod's accomplice, Non, on drums for Contempt, and then a blonde bewigged David Schneider (who will always be Tony Le Mesmer to me) providing the male third of Rags.

@howardbowden said...

Utterly astonished by Contempt.

That aside, when you add I Feel Love and God Save The Queen to Knowing Me, Knowing You, there's a strong case for 1977 being the best ever year for singles.

Simon Mclean said...

Johnny Pearson had a serious case of metronome trouble during Barry Biggs - you can see him waving frantically, then handing it over to someone to start it up, all the while still conducting!

Guitarist Vic Flick (of James Bond fame) talks about his time in the TOTP orchestra in his autobiography, and it sounds like this kind of thing was not uncommon, which may explain why Pearson's tempi are occasionally rather 'creative'!

Neil Barker said...

Some more info about Contempt here :

Thanks to Mark Walker on Popscene.

Anonymous said...

That contempt would have been out of place in the Britpop era...

Lee said...

Obviously this was a period of my life when I finally had something better to do than sit and watch TOTP on a Thursday night.
Contempt and Rags I just don't remember at all and the Barry Biggs, Uriah Heep and Kiki Dee songs have totally slipped my memory?
Good to hear Good morning judge again :)

Elsterpei said...

It does not matter what you read or hear, now and then: no one has anything but utter contempt for DLT so how did he last so long? "we are all mad on here ", "no you're not"

Erithian said...

Neil - I notice that if you follow another link on the page you linked to - - you learn that another member of Contempt, Robin Langridge, went on to play with other TOTP luminaries such as Karel Fialka, Ivor Biggun and Ofra Haza.

Dory said...

A fun show this week. Loved the Joe Tex video, and the big fat woman at the end.
Once again the Billy Ocean song was the best of the show, and it was great to have the two hot blondes from Legs & Co to take the stage.
I never really appreciated Gill until this show, as I usually focus on the original three from Ruby Flipper.
Oh and the Barbara Streisand video was a nice relaxing interlude before the remaining Legs doing the Van McCoy Hustle, with Sue and Lulu in those interesting outfits.
One of the more fun shows in 1977 so far from the BBC4 vaults....

Dory said...

Correction on my last comment...I meant Rosie, not Gill. Rosie has the longest Legs, and the finest! So there we have it. When is the next show??

Minty B said...

Excellent Kevin Godley style miming by the Uriah Heep drummer - I don't think he made contact with anything for the whole song.

Steve Williams said...

I'm always late these days, aren't I? I can't imagine The Detroit Spinners had ever performed on a stage as small as that, and that performance was a bit of a shambles, though entertaining.

I like how 10cc have replaced Godley and Creme with a drummer who looks very much like a cross between the two of them.

Since this is the last time before Christmas we'll see that ABBA video I'd like to put on record that my favourite bits are a) obviously, Agnetha's face during "Baaaad days!" and b) Agnetha curling her lip at the camera when she steps out from behind Frida and Benny.