The common thread about Top Of The Pops down the years was that you could only get on if you had a hit record - indeed the latter day profilerance of exclusives on the show led many to suggest ducking away from the chart boundaries was what was making it unpopular.
This, as we've continually seen throughout these reruns, is rubbish. Every week it seems there's a record, whether by an established name or someone entirely new, that failed to trouble the scorers and hadn't been heard from that day to this. Whether through major label payola or taking a chance on a likely hit, these as yet unreleased songs seem to take up most of each episode.
The most latterly famous among the instantly forgotten are of course Contempt, our post about whom having become, with the aid of The Word and doyouremember not to mention their complete lack of web presence prior to that reshowing, this blog's most viewed post ever. But what about the others? Here's a handful of those flop makers that have been memorable for largely wrong reasons, only two of whom ever made the UK top 50 singles chart but all of whom had a place on the nation's number one pop TV show:
LAURIE ANDREW & ZERO – I'll Never Love Anyone Anymore (1/4/76)
Plausible Laurie didn't get anywhere due to Tony getting his name wrong. Andrew, whose relation to his band was in the style of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, was in fact Laurie Forsey who would go on to write music for Flashdance and The Breakfast Club, and whose brother Keith was Giorgio Moroder's drummer and produced Generation X, Billy Idol, the Psychedelic Furs, Donna Summer and Simple Minds.
HEAVY METAL KIDS – She's No Angel (27/5/76)
Apart from that bloke ducking down, the main thing you may have noticed is the presence out front of the late Gary Holton, Wayne from Auf Wiedersehen Pet, who had clearly heard a couple of Alice Cooper records in his life. Discovered by Dave Dee, they made their first album in 1974 and by this time were onto their third, a shot at the big time through the auspices of the great glam label RAK, whose Mickie Most was producer. After its failure the band went quiet until 2002, when they made a critically acclaimed album, Hit The Right Button. A shifting lineup, including John Altman as singer for a couple of years, has kept the name going ever since, supporting UFO on tour earlier this year. Who'd like to see Joe Elliot of Def Leppard singing the near-hit with Altman last April?
THE SURPRISE SISTERS – Got To Get You Into My Life (10/6/76)
These did have a hit, but everyone remembers this performance so they're in. Presumably with nothing better to do between The Idiot and Low, Tony Visconti took it upon himself to discover and produce this four sister act, Ellen, Linda, Patricia and Susan Sutcliffe - he says in his autobiography he envisaged them as a British Labelle. Raised in Adelaide, Barry Gibb saw them in Sydney and suggested they move to England. A cover of Andy Fairweather Low's La Booga Rooga made number 36. This notoriously ragged Pops performance didn't help their second cover do likewise. "They were especially popular in Europe" it says here.
SUNFIGHTER – Drag Race Queen (15/7/76)
Or Story Of The Drag Race Queen as many places list it, the song so obscure now everyone taking Noel's word for it. Or just Queen, as that's who they take after and it was produced by Roy Thomas Baker to boot. They made three singles before calling it a day in 1978. Singer Rikki Peebles, who had briefly been in Marmalade, was the UK's Eurovision contestant in 1987, finishing 13th; guitarist John Hardman is the estranged father of Girls Aloud's Sarah Harding.
GLAMOURPUSS – Superman (15/7/76)
Right. Well, your guess is as good as mine here. Supposedly they were five beauty queens; it's said one member was Stephanie Lawrence, who went on to take the West End lead in Evita, win a Variety Club Best Stage Actress award for the lead in Marilyn! The Musical, play Pearl in the original London production of Starlight Express and be nominated for a Tony Award for her role in the original London and Broadway productions of Blood Brothers before dying of liver disease in 1990. And even that's not confirmed. Beyond that, nothing.
UPDATE (9/7/12): thanks to comments regular Arthur Nibble, who went above and beyond the call of duty in contacting the song's label (Bus Stop, who made stars of Paper Lace) and writers, we now know as much as pretty much ever will about Glamourpuss. They were created by the songwriters Chris Arnold, David Martin and Geoff Morrow (who had a 1970 top 20 single as Butterscotch, and Martin wrote Can't Smile Without You), who had created Guys'n'Dolls to some success and decided to give an all-female group a go. According to Morrow "the act got really good PR, partly because of a photo shoot we did with the girls in white t-shirts (and little else!) coming out of the sea". And Martin has confirmed Stephanie Lawrence was indeed a member.
(16/7/12): and another one! Arnold (via Morrow) passes on that another member, the straight haired one in the middle, was one Zena Clifton, who went on to Carry On bit-parts and a Play Your Cards Right Dolly Dealer. More identities if/when they develop.
1776 – Oh Susannah (22/7/76)
That's not the violent prisoner Charles Bronson on lead, it is in fact one Jacques Mercier. His previous psych-funk band Dynastie Crisis are acknowledged as one of the most important French groups of the early 70s, their track Faust 72 appearing on the Ocean's Twelve soundtrack and later becoming backing band for the successful singer-songwriter Michel Polnareff. 1776 was a one-off project to mark the American bicentenary, after which Mercier continued in various guises into the 00s.
RAGS – Promises Promises (28/4/77)
If this A Song For Europe losing favourite's brand of perky pop seems a few years ahead of its time that's because it was in a way. Jill Shirley, the crop haired female, went on to manage Bucks Fizz while Nichola Martin, the other female, co-wrote a number of their songs including My Camera Never Lies and Now Those Days Are Gone (Mike Nolan was brought into ver Fizz as a mate of theirs) Reputedly, had A Song For Europe not been confined to the radio due to industrial action, their routine would have included the female members' long skirts being ripped away to reveal shorter garments beneath. Everything comes around.
TRINIDAD OIL COMPANY – The Calendar Song (12/5/77)
"Ooh, the Trinidad Oil Company!" indeed. The Wolves-outfitted overmanned collective, for some reason signed to prog label Harvest and bizarrely rumoured at the time to have involved Marc Bolan, had previously been known by the giveaway name the Dutch Rhythm Steel & Showband, formed in 1969 from Surinamese descendents and still active, were later to work with James Brown, James Last, Boney M and Charles Aznavour. The accompanying album, confusingly also The Calendar Song, includes covers of the theme from Shaft and Jesus Christ Superstar.
MARTYN FORD ORCHESTRA – Let Your Body Go Downtown (12/5/77)
Perhaps most notorious for Jimmy actually introducing them as being at number 48, giving away the weakness in depth that week. Written by Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran, this vague attempt at British disco peaked at 38. The impression of his wild 'conducting' does his actual reputation no favours - he founded the New Sinfonia orchestra, as it then was, and took them to the Royal Albert Hall in 1971. A much in demand arranger, conductor and record producer, his credits include Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Bob Marley, David Bowie, Kate Bush, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Cliff Richard, Phil Collins, Bryan Ferry, Lou Reed, the Grateful Dead and ELO. He conducted and arranged the successful Classic Rock albums with the London Symphony Orchestra, arranged for the films Tommy and Live And Let Die and the original soundtrack album of Jesus Christ Superstar, twice conducted the Eurovision Song Contest orchestra and has plenty of musical director, opera, soundtrack and commercial credits otherwise.