Saturday, 7 July 2012

State of independents

So we're seeing in rather too graphic detail what the BBC considered prime time pop entertainment. But what about the opposition? Here's a surely by no means complete guide to TOTP rivals and music-led shows the ITV regions put out in the Seventies:

Lift Off/Lift Off With Ayshea (Granada, 1969-74)
The first of many Granada pop shows produced by Muriel Young, and almost as famous now for how little survives - two out of 144 episodes. In fact, pretty much just this online:

And an audio recording of Starman, which came three weeks before the TOTP slot. Originally co-hosted by Graham Bonney, and later Wally Whyton (and Ollie Beak of course) the show renaming came for its fourth of eight series.

2Gs And The Pop People (LWT, 1972)
Splendidly antediluvian title for a vehicle for The Second Generation, Dougie Squires' follow-up to the more celebrated Young Generation when they grew up (and who later included Patti of Ruby/Legs), featuring plenty of their routines but also invaluable archive of Scott Walker, The Move and Labi Siffre. Oh, and this notorious Sandie Shaw routine:

45 (Granada, 1974-75)
Ayesha's successor, later known as Rock On With 45, which seems presumptuous. Sixty episodes, 15 of which are still around, fronted by Radio Luxembourg's Kid Jensen. If you can find any clips, well done.

The Geordie Scene (Tyne Tees, 1974-76)
Not actually Geordie specific despite the title, this was a melange briefly hosted by DLT early on, typically exhibiting one artist per show, progressing from the Glitter Band and metal Sweet via a pre-fame Shakin' Stevens and the Sunsets to Dr Feelgood. Dave Eager's your man there.

Supersonic (LWT, 1975-77)
Having begun as part of Saturday Scene, fronted by Sally James, it became ITV's most direct attempt yet at a Pops killer by being shown on Thursday afternoons, albeit being moved back to Saturday lunchtime before the first of its two series was complete. All linked by Mike Mansfield from the VT suite they had ideas about presentation, keeping cameras and bits of set scaffolding in shot and not just having people playing to an audience, as shown by Osibisa having their dry cleaning bill increased, David Essex wandering around a bit or a clearly well past the stage of feeling ridiculous Marc Bolan. The theme by Status Quo's Andy Bown, played live on its third show, meant business, more so than being followed by Cliff Richard, Pilot, Bay City Rollers, Chris Farlowe and Albert Hammond that week would suggest. No, despite featuring the Damned in February 1977, literally years before BBC TV would, the playlist was never outlandish. Not to say it didn't try, as shown by it ending two months later with a hesitant all star jam featuring Marc Bolan, Dave Edmunds, Dave Davies, Elkie Brooks, Alvin Stardust and Gloria Jones.

Shang-A-Lang (Granada, 1975)

Bay City Rollers were on top of their game, having just had Bye Bye Baby go to number one, when this twenty week long series began, and Give A Little Love followed it to the top during the run. Your hosts played one new song a week to the accompaniment of screams and stage invasion attempt and brought on contemporaries of a curiously retrograde quality, like the Rubettes and Showaddywaddy. Surely Eric was wandering across the stage or something, kids can't have been that keen on Dave Bartram.

Arrows (Granada, 1976-77)
Keeping alive the Shang-A-Lang format, with producer and dancers (Him And Us) moving over, this was a vehicle for a band who'd had a couple of top 30 singles in 1974-75 but due to legal issues managed not to release anything while their show was ongoing. Here's an example of their work, interspersed with Paul Nicholas. Elsewhere there was a ceremonial passing of the torch, Marc Bolan, a perception confusing Slade and the Wurzels. And this Arrows original, which I believe someone covered.

So It Goes (Granada, 1976-77)
Meanwhile other things were going on late at night. Always eclectic, July 1976's first show featured the Chieftains, Tom Waits and the Sutherland Brothers & Quiver, while Clive James was a weekly guest on the first series and there was a regular feature on record sleeve design. Then came the last show of that series, the last live guest of which kind of changed the show's and Wilson's tack a little. The second series featured very little performing in the studio, unless it was Ian Dury reading poetry, leaving Wilson to go out and about to check up on a curious looking, pre-Dylan hair John Cooper Clarke and Siouxsie & The Banshees (look very closely for a young Mick Hucknall near the front). Reputedly Wilson's boss told him "I don't need any more guys with horse's tails sticking out of their asses", with reference to some Iggy Pop live footage, and a third series was cancelled.

Marc (Granada, 1977)
So obviously the next place to go after the Rollers and a Mickie Most band is Marc Bolan in his unfortunate last months, not it's fair to say a natural in front of camera. It only ran for six weeks, curtailed by events (the final show was broadcast after Bolan's funeral), for which T Rex would perform three songs from across their career and Bolan would help select the rest, which meant the first band a notably out of breath Marc introduced were The Jam and that you were as likely to see Hawkwind as Mud. Probably best not to ask how Robin Askwith got on. The series famously finished with Bolan and Bowie jamming together. Mind the edge of the stage, Marc.

Get It Together (Granada, 1977-81)

Muriel Young moved on to produce seven series of another variety pop show, whether that meant the Jags, Dollar or U2. Roy North, initially with Linda Fletcher, later with Megg Nichol, and Olly Beak returned too, plus a house band directed by Mike Moran.

Paul (Granada, 1978)
So obviously the next best thing to Bolan is Nicholas. Not unreasonably details and clips of this series are harder to come by, though records show appearances by Wings, Marianne Faithfull, Jimmy Cliff - reggae like it used to be! - Thin Lizzy, Darts and Leo Sayer.

Revolver (ATV, 1978)
Mickie Most's attempt to create an antithesis of TOTP until the station refused to let punk and new wave appear in prime time on their watch, the concept for the sole series was ATV and host Chris 'Renta Santa' Hill (credited as 'KING OF THE KIDS') had taken over an old dance hall with a revolving stage much to the chagrin of its manager, who would chip in disparagingly. Said manager was the masterstroke booking of Peter Cook, who is said to have influenced John Lydon's Rotten persona and, Pete Shelley claimed, would distribute porn magazines among the audience and try and get them to put the bands off by holding them up. It was the sort of show where the Stranglers would be introduced by West Midlands radio legend-to-be Les Ross cooking burgers. It would put cartoons to Ian Dury and the Blockheads' words. It debuted Dire Straits more than six months before this was a hit, a good portion of the crowd at the start clearly thinking they're going to be an entirely different type of band. And then the critics all hated it and it was dropped. Five shows have just appeared on YouTube, the pick being the first - XTC, Kate Bush, Steel Pulse, John Dowie, Tom Robinson - and the fourth - Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Rezillos, Matumbi, the Motors.

Kenny Everett Video Show (Thames, 1978-80)
Not a music show per se, of course, but certainly on the first of its three series the focus was more on Everett linking rather than being funny himself. Throughout Everett and co's eye for offbeat visuals lent itself to some endlessly replayable clips for the likes of Kate Bush, Thin Lizzy, Squeeze with a light aircraft, David Bowie with bit of business at the end, the chameleonic Nick Lowe and David Bowie again with Space Oddity seemingly filmed on part of the Ashes To Ashes video set.

Alright Now (Tyne Tees, 1979-80)
A kind of dry run for The Tube - Malcolm Gerrie producing and a former characterful pop star hosting in Den Hegarty, until he was sacked and replaced by rolling hosts including Bill Oddie, Mickie Most and Billy Connolly, whose attempt at interviewing John Bonham met with something of a brick wall. Although chiefly for local bands, so catching the likes of Dire Straits and the Police early, that was by no means all, especially if someone like the Clash was in town. It was produced concurrently (again by Gerrie) with teen issues magazine Check It Out, which lasted until 1982. That had live music footage occasionally - The Jam, for one - but is most famous for Public Image Ltd's walkout. The extravagantly permed presenter? Chris Cowey, later Pops nabob.

And from that point onwards came Razzamatazz, The Roxy and CD:UK... but maybe another time.


Arthur Nibble said...

Another beautifully researched gem of a feature, bringing back happy memories of not just the music but also the ITV idents before and after programmes - yes, there were times I'd ask to watch the start of a programme as it would feature the ident for Westward or Grampian or Channel, rarities round my 'hood.

I could never understand how or why Arrows were given a series two years or so after their best-by date...and surely the Supersonic all star jam should have included John Christie. 1977 was going to be a big year for him.

Arthur Nibble said...

Me again. Did Madness nick and augment their seven-man conga walk having seen the Arrows routine just before "I Love Rock And Roll"? Also, apologies if I'm repeating something from a previous post, but that Marc and Bowie jam never got re-recorded. It was at the very end of a pre-booked recording, there were only two minutes left of the time slot when Marc tripped off the stage and, due to technicians not wanting to work overtime or the inability to extend the booking, Marc and david didn't have time to have a second crack at it.

Angelo Gravity said...

I think I watched all of the Marcs, Pauls and Revolvers, and quite a few of the Shangalangs, Get it Togethers and Kenny Evs.

There's one show I used to watch in 1973, I don't recall the name though or even if it was ITV or BBC - it was shown in the afternoons after school once a week and featured a top of the pops style chart rundown - my best memory of it is of Gary Glitter being at number one with I Love You love - at the beginning of the song, the bit with the drums, a large oblong box is wheeled upright onto the stage, and it slowly turns around to reveal Glitter, just in time for the vocals.

Was Top of the Pops ever given a teatime repeat? Does anyone else remember this particular performance?

Lift Off With Arthur said...

Sometimes you find gold dust when you're inquisitive. Originally called "Discotheque" and shown by four ITV regions in the pre-news slot before its revamp...

Stegron said...

An Arrows show? Really? Blimey!

That puts me in mind of good old Flintlock, who only managed one top 40 single, but seemed to be all over the place for a year or two (Pauline's Quirks, You Must Be Joking!, god knows how many Look-In covers, as well as their own strip).

And pity poor old Derek Pascoe, their singer. Not only did their drummer (cute lil' Mike Holloway) prove to be the breakout star, but their one and only top 40 hit was largely sung by their guitarist! If you watch their TOTP appearance, Derek is the one on the sax...

Poor Derek. Still, ARROWS?!?

Julie Joanne Bevan said...

There's one ITV show you've missed: Granada TV's "Look Alive", broadcast in late 1975 and hosted by Stephanie De Sykes and Gordon Bennett (sic). Each programme covered a specific musical topic, such as rhythm and blues, or jazz-rock.

It was while watching one episode, in which folk-rock was the main theme, that I discovered my all-time favourite band, Gallagher and Lyle; they performed their early acoustic song "Willie" with Graham on lead vocal and guitar, and Benny on mandolin with a harmonica on a holder.

Three months later, they were on TOTP with "I Wanna Stay With You"...and you know the rest. I LOVED their reunion concert in Edinburgh this year!

Vintage Reading said...

Ah Lift Off! I think it was also presented by Roy North who did a singing spot. I seem to remember him singing Splish Splash I Was Taking A Bath - in a bubble bath!

Didn't Marc Bolan also have his own music show?

Vintage Reading said...

Ah Lift Off! I think it was also presented by Roy North who did a singing spot. I seem to remember him singing Splish Splash I Was Taking A Bath - in a bubble bath!

Didn't Marc Bolan also have his own music show?

Vintage Reading said...

Note to self: read whole post before jumping in with dumb comment. You've already answered my question about Marc!

Arthur Nibble said...

"Splish Splash" was a Mister Roy 'Get It Together' special report from memory. I remember watching it and wondering who at Granada thought that would be relevant to teens of the day.

Almost Simon said...

Dr Feelgood performing Back in the Night on 45. There's a better quality version of this on the DVD with the recent Dr Feelgood boxset "All Through The City."

Tyrone Jenkins said...

These additional articles make an already excellent blog site even better! Excellent journalism and it's great to be able to see the footage, especially Peter Cook on 'Revolver'.

80sBlokeInThe70s said...

Yes Flintlock were everywhere including every edition of the magazines for young teenage girls that my sister used to buy back then - and of course Mike Holloway had his parallel career in "The Tomorrow People".
But it's also true that Flintlock were a proper "gigging" band not just a boyband and recently reformed for some pub gigs in their native Essex.

And does anyone else remember watching "Pauline's Quirkes"? - it was outrageous and very near the knuckle for a supposedly children's programme - to be honest 37 years later (it was shown autumn 1976) I still don't think there's been a kids programme so "anything goes" as that one - probably why it got taken off.

And of course not really pop programmes but every week "Crackerjack" had two live bands and "Basil Brush" one. In the case of the former at least, the wiped performances must have been a real treasure trove with them regularly featuring big hits from the charts of the day.
A very early memory of mine is of one of my mum's friends just about to leave our house one afternoon and stopping because Roy Orbison had just come on "Crackerjack" (this would have been late 60s- how the hell do I remember that?!)

And who could forget "Razzamatazz" with Lisa Stansfield - before she adopted her professional Lancastrian persona - anyone who remembers her from her big hits years of the late 80s/early 80s will remember the completely over the top Rochdale accent she used to speak in. Look at her on the "Razzamatazz youtube clip where she speaks in very neutral accent. It's often mentioned that this or that pop star plays up the accent but is this a rare instance of someone being caught talking in their "other" voice before they decided to go regional?

And I remember that appearance of Gary Glitter with him in the box - up there with Marc Bolan coming down on the fire-breathing dragon on 'Supersonic'.

Simon said...

Bugger, those two Revolvers have been taken down. Still, the clips are around - Kate Bush (with all the Cook clips), XTC, Steel Pulse, Nick Lowe, Rezillos.

There's bits of Razzamatazz on YouTube - Kate Bush, Paul McCartney, Madness and this Thompson Twins/Peggy Babcock Game clip, featuring Vikki Benson as co-host. And, oddly, Hanoi Rocks. As for Lisa, here she is with two of the reformatted Guys'n'Dolls, now including Rosie from Legs & Co, possibly stopping off on her way to a themed Thompson Twins fancy dress party.

Stegron said...

'Pauline's Quirks' has just been released by Network DVD!

You're not wrong, it's fairly outrageous, probably more so now. In fact, the running gag for the first few episodes involves Pauline basically trying to get Flintlock to strip bollock naked for the benefit of the pubescent screaming girls in the audience!

Arthur Nibble said...

Talking of Flintlock's Mike Holloway, please don't forget his performance on "Pebble Mill At One" as co-vocalist on Paul Shane's mind-boggling version of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling". If you've never seen it, YouTube the clip and hold your jaw in preparation for it dropping.

As for Peter Cook, I can never think of him without recalling the classic Pete and Dud art gallery sketch where Dud corpses and Pete says "Are you enjoying that sandwich?" - cue Dud eating, laughing and gasping for air all at once.

Noax said...

80sBloke... - Yes, you're right about Lisa Stansfield being a professional Northerner.
Nobody, but nobody, is worse than Cilla 'Doing a fake Scouse accent 'cos I can't remember how to do one properly' Black though.

On that Nation's Favourite Number One thing on ITV the other night they showed a clip of her utterly excruciating version of 'You've Lost That Loving Feeling'. Never mind the bloody Sex Pistols, if that had got to Number 1 instead of the Righteous Brothers version, it would've been a disgrace!

Speaking of which (ooh, you'd never guess I used to be a DJ, would you?) Arthur is right about everybody having to see Paul Shane's version of that song. BA-BY BAAY-BAAAYYY!

Dj elsterpie said...

At your service

And i think this is even better: patience please, the magic begins after a minute