Wednesday, 25 July 2012

TOTP 30/6/77 (tx 25/7/12): summer shorts

Courtesy of Google's scans of the Glasgow Herald archives, that night's BBC1 at a glance...



In fact it comes out at a sneaky 27 minutes, which means we've just about lost another likely non-charting single of forgotten rubbish oddness. Gnh.

"There's only one way to introduce this week's TOTP - and this is it". It may be a shortened programme full of repeats, but Noel's going to bring out all the stylistic big guns we've become accustomed to nonetheless.

T-Connection – Do What You Wanna Do
Kicking off with a video is a surefire way of showing there's not much going on this week, or that someone pulled out late. A really ropey quality performance video clip, as if they'd prefigured the cabling running the floor of the Atlantic by dragging the reel to reel along the sea bed on the way across, mostly featuring an overhead shot of the singer at the keyboard wearing a bright yellow tabard with some sort of flower-cog design on. But never mind that, as just 25 seconds in... Toppotron™ time! And what a motley crew of uncomfortable dancers we have in tonight, ranging from a couple on a raised platform who have the swing and the moves to a man in a grey jumper lively pacing three steps into the bulk of the throng, then three steps back, then repeat. TV studio, wedding reception, all the same. The girls swing their bobs prettily. The boys either fancy themselves in their stylish white jackets or look like they need an urgent piss. One girl has brought her autograph book with her and is clutching it for dear life. Just a minute and a half in - maybe the end was damaged by rocks or covered in seaweed - Noel wanders on, and either it's a massive con with green screen and last week's crowd or he's oddly lit from above. "Born with a teaspoon in their mouths" is his first attempt at redefining the presentational art.

Gladys Knight & The Pips – Baby Don't Change Your Mind
"Three new entries in the charts this week - well, four altogether but three in tonight's programme". Sounds like he's actually over-read the script. They've still not learnt how to wear orange headphones properly.

John Miles – Slow Down
Not a repeat! So there was life in TVC that week. Miles still has his luxuriant tache, embellished with Les Gray shades this week, and can play the talkbox a little better even though he can't remember to start using it at the right moment, but his band have made up for it with a variety of bad fashions. The keyboard player in his wing-collared shiny catsuit open to the navel because he thinks it makes him resemble Travolta makes a good effort, but the drummer in green PE kit (and no shoes) takes the prize for not thinking through how he's going to look. Noel commends the "unbelievable" pace before allowing us to scratch another off the bingo card with a failed prediction. "It's got to have number one written all over it" he suggests. Well, it's closer than most of them.

Jesse Green – Come With Me
Or Jess, as Noel renames him. As the kids literally scarper from the marauding camera that keeps changing its angle, maybe through people getting their own back, we see Green has gone for the page of the style booklet titled 'international man of leisure'. Shades with lenses that awkwardly reflect the studio lights, tight afro, thin and very neat long moustache with mere hint of before its time goatee, black shirt with top three buttons undone, pristine white suit. Quite the smoothie.

Queen – Good Old Fashioned Loverboy
Well, they're not going to turn up twice, are they. "For some reason I always want him to say 'give us a kiss' at the end of that" Noel muses. Your fantasies about the flirting habits of the manly Freddie Mercury, Noel, are yours to keep.

Cliff Richard – When Two Worlds Drift Apart
Noel's been chatting to Cliff. "He says if it's not a hit, it'll be a miss with style. I reckon he's got style, I reckon it'll be a hit. Otherwise I wouldn't have chosen it as my record of the week." Two in one! Inaccurate prediction - it peaked at 46 - and record of the week humble brag. No, wait, the song is "what happens when two worlds drift apart", so he's described the title too. The song seems an anticlimax now. It seems an anticlimax while it's progressing too, a stately piano ballad. Cliff in his powder blue suit, promotional badge for own album and two medallions can at least attempt to pull this descriptively emotive vocal style off, but the Ladybirds, around one mike and two in Carole Bayer Sager tribute outfits, cawing almost over him in a slightly different key don't help.

The Detroit Emeralds – Feel The Need In Me
"And when twelve legs get together with a few other bits..." Just eight months after they joined our happy dancing band Gill and Rosie get their own showcase (though there is evidence to suggest a previous wiped show featured those two alone), dancing alone but likewise in a three-way split screen with the other four in the middle doing a supplementary joint routine. All six are outfitted in a curious mesh of little black dress, flapper style - feather in the hair, sequins, outfit cut to the thigh - and glamorous widow at funeral, some sort of lacey mesh attached to the back. The pair must be across a soundstage from each other as they switch all the time from grinning enjoyment to concerned glances across, as it's never entirely clear whether they're supposed to be in sync. "It's Patti's birthday, and we'll be having a birthday patty for her after" Noel challenges syntax. Actually it was her birthday (a lady never reveals her age. I'm not a lady. 27.) the day of recording, but with link time short Noel probably had enough on his mind, unlikely as that seems.

Emerson Lake & Palmer – Fanfare For The Common Man
Still snowed out. That gong never gets used.

Hot Chocolate – So You Win Again
"Rather appropriate to have a fanfare before the number one sound, and men don't come more common than this lot". Ah, Noel. A smile, a quip, an insult. Errol, who's even more stationary than usual, affects not to notice. Obviously. A comedy rolling xylophone trill seems to have been added to the chorus by the orchestra, as well as some parping trombones. Noel, after commending their "phenomenal rush to the top", introduces as the playout "Ma Boney". Frank Farian's wife?

We'll have to be going some to make it past fifty comments this week.

64 comments:

Noax said...

I'm getting in early for a change. No time to hang around given that I'm off to see that Olympics. Well, Wiggo and Cav(y?) whizzing by near the end of my mate's road.

My goodness, isn't the 30-21 section of the rundown very hirsute?

I'm not sure about the set this week - what are those weird stacks? Chopped off pylons?!

T-Connection - Yes, he's back, the biggest star of the show all year. No, not Noel, Toppotron!!
Although the way they turn the video off very early is a bit weird. I think that's why Noel looks a bit odd incidentally, 'fringing' is the technical term I believe. On Noel I mean, not the dancers. Then again...

Oh, and a decent tune too, what we get of it anyway...

Gladys Knight & The Pips - This is still ace, though I do wonder what the 2 studio engineers are discussing near the end. 'Let's get some earphones that don't look like telephone receivers' perhaps?

'Jess' Green - The second act in a row to have the shades on, though he definitely looks cooler than John Miles. That pylon thing's still doing its best to outperform him though.

Cliff Richard - How do I know this song? I really do know it very well, which means either a) endless play on Radio 2 while I was off school with chronic asthma or b) it was on one of my Mum's Cliff tapes.
Quite possible both actually.

And...god help me...I really like it too. Obviously the viral marketing badge didn't help this time.

Detroit Emeralds - Noel's not on usual punning form this week, is he? Birthday patty indeed. You could have said you would've bought her a present of some jewellery from America, Noel - you know, like a DETROIT EMERALD?!

Hot Chocolate - One the one hand, you've got to give them props for turning up for a third time to do the song. On the other, they could at least look bloody interested. You're Number One guys! Honestly.

Boney M or Ma Boney or whatever - Look, the Olympic rings! Well, 2 of them anyway. So nearly topical.

THX said...

Even though the opener was reduced to five nanoseconds, I thought this show started very strongly and was wondering what the grumbling was about. Then the rest of it happened and I sort of saw what you meant.

It wouldn't have surprised me if there had been a scandal over Noel's Record of the Week, a reverse payola where artists would pay him not to make their tunes Record of the Week. "All right Edmonds, how much do you want?"

Jess(e) Green's song reminds me of something kind of folk-pop-y, maybe called Dance with Me or something like that? Like Radio 2 of 1977 would play incessantly?

Difficult to tell if Gill and Rosie were enjoying themselves or not, their expressions were changing like someone was flicking a happy/sad switch.

Errol. Eerily still.

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

The T-Connection clip was short wasn't it. I'm sure that was a young Victoria Wood dancing at the back with the guy in the red trousers. The lead singer looks like he's wearing one of a moulded plastic baby bib decorated with those nasty croched hexigans that girls used to stitch together to make things (owls mainly).

And what was going on with the what's-it-called (Toblerone?). At the end it sort of melted into a black blob and the camera panned round Noel to mask it out of view.

Oh no John Miles has now discovered aviator shades. If there's a rock cliche Mr Miles will latch on to it albeit two years too late. But he makes a better job of the mouth tube than the guy from Foxx last year.

I noticed the drummer's still wearing the same bottle green sleeveless shirt and satin short combo. Do you think he washed them in between?

Why do they never rehearse the camera moves with the audience. I wonder if any of them ever fell over and sued the BBC. Lots of shaky camera shots this week - the audience are fighting back!

The Jesse Green song's not a patch on Nice and Slow and I really miss seeing his band, the guitarist in the cowboy hat, the flautist, the other two.

Cliff made some excellent records at this time. I just didn't appreciate them. This is Miss You Nights part two.

I don't think I've ever seen any footage of The Detroit Emeralds performing Feel The Need which is a shame as it's a superb song. I bought this back in 1977 and bought their albums later. A much underrated group.

The strings on the Hot Chocolate were out of time or in the wrong key at the start. Nasty.

How many acts were actually in the studio this week. I make it four - John Miles, Jesse Green, Cliff and Hot Choc. A bit thin. I bet that autograph book wasn't used much. Exactly half the chart (15 acts) were black or multi-racial (Hot Chocolate/Heatwave/Jesse Green - if we include his invisible motley crew).

David H said...

After seeing this edition it's now perhaps possible to appreciate why Noel was (allegedly) slightly touchy about old editions of TOTP with him as presenter being shown again...ghosts in the closet perhaps?

That T-Connection video was probably shot on a very low budget with only access to a domestic quality video recorder for production purposes (non-professional video production was still in its infancy in 1977), so if that tape had been copied several times for stations around the world the end result would end up looking utterly dreadful quality-wise. Good tune though.

This edition may not have been a classic by any means but I still found it musically more enjoyable than last week's show. Even Sir Cliff was just passable as well (someone I normally don't have much time for).

Arthur Nibble said...

Full of repeats, yes, but not as rotten as I’d expected, and I thought I’d have very little to say this week but...

Some strange LHS cuts to a few of the rundown shots, and did ELO really only play to one woman? I’d forgotten just how chocful of soul the chart was at this time – the majority of numbers 21 to 30 brought it home to me.

A real lottery / surprise start to the show, as the previous archives (on Popscene for one) listed the first four songs as 4-1-3-2. I thought they’d cut Jess to begin with, straight to the Toppotron (welcome back!) and some footage of Jami...er, T-Connection obviously shot on a prototype camcorder or phone camera.

Not sure we miss Floyd and the lads from Ruby Flipper. Why not just show a loop of The Pips going through their routine? It would work for me.

First failed prediction of the evening from Noel, but at least Keith...er, John made the top ten. Much better mime this time, almost perfect – John obviously took my previous criticisms on board.

I had trouble acclimatising to Jess(e) without the hat, waistcoat and Union Jack, but he looked dapper and gave a fine performance in my opinion. For some reason the hook reminds me of "Dance With Me" by Orleans.

Sorry, can’t imagine Brian May without thinking of his interchangeable hairstyles with Anita Dobson. Lyrical mistake by Fred – “I’ll pay the bill, you taste the wine”. Surely it’s the other way round, otherwise you’re being very trusting with that waiter.

Now for a Confucius saying – he who has Noel Edmonds record of the week has flop single. I vividly remember Cliff performing this some weeks later on a show of his, then bitterly opining that only 45 other records had stopped it from being number one. Suit over T-shirt equals ballad and, in this case, an overlong but pretty and well mimed one.

Ah! It’s the Legs & Co routine from the 'this is what TOTP was like in 1977' preview show, which stops early doors after a technician walks into shot. Good to see close-ups of Gill and Rosie...extreme close-ups of Rosie, for some reason.

The Montreal Olympic stadium looked just as empty as some of ours will be for the shebang. Didn’t notice this before, but was Greg Lake rocking an eight-string bass? Never seen one of those beasts before. I’m sure WeddingSuit (remember him?) must have tried one.

Errol looked really fed up, bored, hacked off, whatever. Did he hate the song or was he annoyed at Noel’s ‘common’ joke? Rich coming from a DJ hailing from Dagenham. On a topical note, glad that Noel’s turned down the opportunity of a Saturday teatime BBC1 show. His time’s been, in all honesty.

Finally, another hidden ‘treat’ with a decent slab of Boney M for pudding, not in the previous archive listings which were, tonight, bobbins. Unlike the show, which I enjoyed more than anticipated.

Four down, 46 to go. Let's do it!

Noax said...

THX, there was a song by Orleans called 'Dance With Me' - could it be that you're thinking of?
I think that did pretty well in America but not so well here.

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

Simon - the backing singers on Cliff's song weren't The Ladybirds but three fellers (as Cliff would say) - John Perry, Tony Rivers and AN Other.

Arthur Nibble said...

Hmm...it seems we're starting to miss the beat slightly, like Corporal jones in "Dad's Army". I was fourth in line when starting my waffle and then find I'm fifth, then Noax confirms the same song as me seconds after I'd mentioned it.

Orleans' single, though pleasant enough, didn't chart over here, and they were candidates for one of the worst albums covers ever, with the lads topless. Ooohhh dear!

Arthur Nibble (again) said...

So, Cliff's backup singers weren't called The Ladyboys by any chance? I'll get my coat.

Simon said...

Well, it was tricky to tell in the lighting. Mind you, they definitely sounded like a female chorus at that moment. That might explain the key disparity.

Noax said...

Great (or warped) minds obviously think alike Arthur.

I don't think I ever saw the Orleans album cover so I was spared that 'pleasure'. I'm sure I used to have to play the single on one of the radio stations I worked for though - the programme controller loved all that type of stuff so I'd get the likes of Starbuck, Gerard Kenny and, erm, Starland Vocal Band to play fairly often.

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

What was the missing new entry that wasn't featured on this weeks show? Was it George Benson?

I noticed that Elton John and Kiki Dee disappeared as quickly as they arrived. Wasn't it around this time that EJ came out?

PS: I'm going to watch the repeat at 12.45am in case they include the missing act(s).

Erithian said...

Love the TV listings for the night! So just before the Toppotron hove into view, we'd been watching highlights of the Wimbledon men's semi-finals, in which an unknown 18-year-old amateur named McEnroe took Jimmy Connors to four sets. And the following day Virginia Wade won the ladies' singles.

Later in the evening Frost grills Yasser Arafat on prime-time TV - quality.

Arthur Nibble (again) said...

"Nature Boy" by George Benson went down from its previous 26 peak to 28 this week. The other new entry was "Exodus".

There was scope this week for a top-50-now-but-never-top-30 song in the prog if they wanted, as they could have chosen from "Center City" by Fat Larry's Band, "Remember The Days Of The Old Schoolyard" by Cat Stevens or, my fave of the three, "Undercover Angel" by Alan O'Day. Massive number one Stateside with next to no publicity, number 43 over here.

I'm beginning to miss Paul Nicholas.

mrangers said...

do what you wanna do,do anything you wanna do,t-connection,thin lizzy,the rods,what's going on this summer ?

Sleazy Martinez said...

Your scan puts it into context for me: Ahhhh... Ludwig.

Eric Monster Hall must have been happy, though? Another showing for Freddie and the boys. Ker-Ching. Bit of Cliff? Back of the net.

If Danny Boyle doesn't bring on ELP to play Fanfare on Friday night, I give up hope for this country.

Errol Brown is a graceful man.

Steve Morgan said...

Despite the repeats on this week's edition I thought it was a pretty good, mixed bag of a show which got off to a good start with T Connection, and at last, some of the audience moving about a bit.
If you want to get this blog past the pavilion start a debate on Cliff, 'cos love him or hate him you can't deny the man's popularity and the number of hits he's had across the years.
One thing I've never got about Cliff, well more to do with his fans actually, is that he'll have a really big hit which hangs around for weeks and weeks in the charts and he seems ever present in promoting it. But then its follow up will only reach number 46 or be a total flop. Just look at his chart stats, they're full of stuff like this.
Two Worlds deserved to be a bigger hit, the song is from the accomplished pen of the late Clifford T Ward, and here Cliff had the werewithal to make this a huge hit,a ballad on the scale of Miss You Nights, and with a vocal every bit as good as that song. Sadly this one was lost again. Cliff doesn't get another biggie for two years but we don't talk anymore about that one just yet, its time will come.

Steve Williams said...

This was quite good as a beginners' guide to Pops 77 - a host you've heard of, a load of famous songs and some shots of the audience - though less good for the hardcore audience, even my parents found it a bit predictable (though speaking to them on the phone after the show - not just to talk about that - I found out for the first time that my dad really likes Fanfare for the Common Man). Of the three new songs featured, one was the playout and one was a re-release.

As mentioned, John Miles was the only white artist between 21 and 30. The chart rundown looked extremely wonky, everyone veering to the left, losing a Pip and a third of Hot Chocolate. Get Ken Morse on the phone, we need a new rostrum camera. I hope it's not too much of a spoiler to recommend everyone makes the most of Whole Lotta Love over the next few weeks.

Tinted glasses were the order of the day, with Miles, Green and Patrick Olive all donning a pair, though the Hot Chocolate performance was a bit dull as Olive didn't do his customary corpsing and they lost that great gimmick from last time where Olive and Harvey Hinsley stood next to Errol at the end, as they all had their own microphones (though Hinsley was a mile away from his).

Imagine waking up to that Cliff song on Noel's show, you'd go straight back to sleep.

Looking forward to the opening act on next week's show, anyway, because I love the idea of ten million people saying in unison "What the hell is this?".

Arthur Nibble said...

Eric Hall would have been very pleased - there were three EMI / EMI International acts on the show. There were also three acts on the Atlantic label.

I met Cliff very briefly way back. The sadly long gone record shop in my home town, which was a goldmine for punk / new wave singles, was also the worldwide headquarters of the Cliff Richard and Shadows fan clubs. Cliff was autographing copies of his album "Green Light" which you had to buy from the shop first. I also saved up my dole money some years later to buy a gold disc of The Shadows' "Ghost Riders In The Sky" on sale in the shop. Not sure if Cliff was using Palmolive in '77, but his neck was already showing hints of tortoise.

As for "Ludwig", I couldn't stand it, or "Crystal Tipps aAnd Alistair" for that matter. "Wombles", "Ivor" and especially "Roobarb" (in bronze / silver / gold order) would be on my pre-nesws podium.

dunkiep said...

Cliff song was diabolical. My 4 year old (obsessive 'pops fan who wakes up singing entire episodes) was desparate to fast forward it. Told him we didn't have sky plus when I was little & we just had to learn to be patient. Can anyone explain why Greg Lake has a microphone? Check out the dude in the Travoltaesque white suit dancing in the audience on the opening number: must've thought he was the dog's bollox!

Arthur Nibble (again) said...

Initially, I misread Simon's critique and thought it said "The girls swing their boobs prettily". I mentioned Greg's unused mic previously but forgot to ask why we don't see Carl thump that kettledrum.

charlie cook said...

ELP - if the stadium clock is anything to go by, it took them 5 hours to record that video

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

Those listings - now I really want to see John Noakes splicing the mainbrace with Clare Francis.

I wasn't sure what Mr Big was, I checked and it turned out to be a sitcom about a family of crooks starring Peter Jones, Prunella Scales and Ian Lavender.

Steve Morgan - I don't want to sound like a Cliff expert but When Two Worlds Drift Apart was written by Peter Sills not Clifford T Ward, Clifford T wrote Up In The World from the same album which is another ballad, and perhaps a better song.

Steve Williams - what was the re-release in the chart this week?

I quite liked Noel at the time but now his puns seem very weak and as someone said above insulting. At least Tony Blackburn admitted his jokes were bad. And if he had introduced Baby Don't Change Your Mind he would have said "Here's Gladys Knight and her sensational Pips".

I remembering seeing Errol Brown with his wife on a show called Night Network in 1988. He was interviewed by Gary Glitter who had been given his own regular slot on the show interviewing other pop stars. He boasted about it to Errol - "Look at me Errol, I've got my own TV show" to which Errol dryly replied "Yes. I'm very pleased for you Gary". A cool guy is Errol.

Arthur Nibble said...

The re-release in the chart was the Detroit Emeralds' "Feel The Need" which had made number 4 just four years earlier. Unsure why they re-released it so quickly, but they hit paydirt anyhow.

THX said...

@Arthur & Noax: yes, Orleans, that's what I was thinking of, thanks. Tried to look it up in my trusty Guinness Book of Hit Singles during the show and it wasn't in there, so I thought I had the title wrong. Maybe I should use that newfangled thing called the Internet from now on.

Simon Jenkins said...

I remember Mr Big quite well, mainly because of Ian Lavender. One episode that sticks in my mind was when they got hold of a printing press and printed their own pound notes.

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

Some great comments/observations this week.

Arthur N - thanks for reminding me that the re-release was the Detroit Emeralds, although it was in theory 'new' as it was supposedly a re-recording but it sounds like the original to me.

I wonder if the group Mr Big took their name from the BBC sitcom. Which came first?

I just watched the 12.45pm repeat but it was the same length, they didn't even play more Ma Baker at the end. Anyone else have any theories as to what was cut (if anything)?

Did anyone else notice that Jess(e) Green nicked Cliff's spin-around move at the start of his performance. But Cliff retaliated with the old hand aloft and pointy finger thing. And Cliff had those 'Ladyboys'. Jess(e) 1 Cliff 2.

Simon said...

For all but three shows, and give or take the odd minute or two, all the Pops for the rest of the year are half an hour long. In fact I posted that clipping to show the original wasn't even that long...

...which has led me to a theory. The editing with the crowd dancing to T-Connection, the unusual nature of starting with two videos, the cut length of the clip and then Noel CSO'd in - do you think that was recorded in case they cadged an extra couple of minutes from the Wimbledon coverage? On iPlayer it's pretty much spot on 27 minutes from start to end of credits.

wilberforce said...

looks like i'm a bit late to the party this week, but hopefully the following comments are still worthy of reading:

arthur - great crack about ladyboys, a laugh-out-loud moment for me

i don't remember the sitcom "mr big" at all - why can't the beeb show that again instead endlessly screening "dad's army" on loop? the expression "burgle" sounds very dated now, although sometimes used to amusing effect as a euphemism for someone of a gay persuasion: "turd-burglar" (i've not put that to mean to cause offence, just as a comment on the use of wordplay)

like others i noticed that the first 10 acts shown in the countdown were black, other than john miles who is probably the whitest of white people who ever lived (although i think this disco effort is actually quite good - i do remember hearing it played at at least one disco i went to at the time). noel was kind of right in saying that it had number one written on it - it got to number 10

on a slightly related theme (the belief that whiteys haven't got what it takes to groove), whilst fast-forwarding through the gladys knight video i caught a glimpse of the control room shot so rewound to take a closer look - it's noticeable that whilst the black guy (presumably producer van mccoy) is grooving away to the track, the white engineer at the mixing desk displays all the emotions of waiting for a bus...

did anyone else notice the t-connection track was a "live" recording? sadly the plug was pulled (maybe a passing shark sliced the underwater link with its fin) just as the break kicked in... which was what i was certainly waiting for if no-one else was

cliff may have had the wherewithal to shamelessly plug his albums by displaying their titles on t-shirts and badges, but if his management were really on the ball they would have given him some discofied material to sing rather than this aimless ballad which already sounds hopelessly out of date (no wonder it was a flop)

talking of which, the detroit emeralds track was not a re-issue - it was actually a re-recording of their earlier hit, presumably (unlike cliff) taking advantage of the burgeoning disco market (it was billed as "a tom moulton mix") - you can listen to the original version here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZfdWGM5naI
regarding their name, were they so called because there was also a liverpudlian folk group called the emeralds? (that's a joke by the way)

hadn't "fanfare for the common man" (which should be pronounced with the emphasis on the word "common", not "man" noel - most brits are guilty of this kind of thing) already peaked at number 2? then why was it shown again? particularly as there was stuff in the lower reaches of the chart (such as george benson's "nature boy") that could do with the exposure...

harking back to my earlier theme that whiteys supposedly can't groove, if you think errol was deathly still (in his case probably for effect), then check out the guitarist whose lower body (unlike the black bassist's) doesn't move one iota throughout the song!

Simon said...

No, Fanfare... peaked two weeks later, and was still in the top ten come August - and if you think that's hanging around for a while for something that had been played so much earlier on TOTP, the week it finally dropped out of the 10 Angelo went to number one.

Steve Williams said...

Over thirty comments already, less than 24 hours after transmission! The mention of Van McCoy in the Pips videos reminds me of a brilliant bit of Lost In Music by Giles Smith where he talks about watching a documentary about Quincy Jones where he's just sat in a control room behind a mixing desk and it looked the coolest job in the world, nodding contetedly and tapping your foot while every so often leaning forward to fiddle with a fader. Smith also says you know you're getting old when you stop fantastsing about being in bands and start fantasising about producing bands instead.

I don't think that opening Noel link was CSOd, I'm assuming it was because he was stood in front of the Toppotron. The audience all turned to look at him, didn't they, and we know the audience do what the hell they want.

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

Sorry for appearing to be thick Simon, I was very tired last night and misread your old TV listing and thought that the show was originally 35mins and they had cut about 8mins. I kept wondering what what was missing! Now I get it.

But looking at the listing again (with fresh eyes) it's strange that Blue Peter is listed as being 30mins long as that show was always 25mins long. And the tennis being a highlights show should not have overrun so it's all a bit odd as to why TOTP was so short that week. Unless it was made to match it's presenter!

I noticed that at the end of the T-Conection clip when the screen faded to black, anything in the background that was black (including the gaps between the flashing coloured lights on the right hand side) went all furry and strange. Simon, as a newbie to this blog can you explain how the Toppotron works and why it did this? And can you tell us something about the history of the Toppotron. I've never heard of it before (apologies if this has been covered in previous entries).

Noax said...

How the Toppotron works?

Why, it's powered by magic and fuelled by a combination of beard clippings from Noel & DLT, Diddy David's wigs, Tony's jokes, and Irresistable Dennis's rock'n'roll moves. With some good love from The Kid to keep the cogs moving.

Arthur Nibble said...

After his earlier mention, I decided to look up teacher-cum-reluctant-pop-star Clifford T. Ward, he of the sublime "Gaye". Could've been a real contender if he didn't hate gigs and interviews. I forgot Clifford suffered with MS for a very long time and, prior to his passing, he had to crawl on all fours into his home studio to record his last album. I found a picture of Clifford on the net in which he looks the spitting image of a long-haired Jason Donovan!

wilberforce said...

i read the giles smith book "lost in music" when it first came out (in the mid-90'?) - as a music-loving peer of his i could highly relate to it, and it was one of the most hilarous books i've read about anything, never mind pop music, and i highly recommend it to all contributors and readers of this blog. apart from the quincy jones comment (i myself realised it was cooler to be a producer than a performer by my mid-twenties), other amusing reminiscences include how back in those days i.e around 1977 "pop music had to be left outside the school gates", and when giles and his brother were discussing names for their new band and their mother casually suggested "how about calling yourself the smiths?", to which they scornfully responded "who would ever give their band such a silly name?" i must get hold of that book and read it again some time...

oh yes, something i forgot to comment on earlier - t-connection were obviously a bit short on dough as they could only afford to buy 4 identical t-shirts for their chart rundown pic - the 5th member had to wear something else...

Simon said...

It's not an official name - I can't remember who came up with Toppotron™, but it was in the comments - but it's something they started doing in the third show of 1977 and have resorted to off and on ever since. Obviously it's not a real screen, just a CSO projection onto a surface - it was used for a Rod Stewart still the other week until someone walked in front of it and caused a huge shadow. What sort of relationship it has to the physical audience in terms of how what they're actually dancing to is being transmitted in the studio is unknown, but in some of the late 60s/early 70s shows there's a similar projection of the chart rundown stills interspersed with dancing.

Archive Nibble said...

First mention of "The Toppotron Screen" by Noax on 10th February 2012, for an edition which managed what was then a respectable total of 27 comments.

Erithian said...

Today on Blue Peter, John Noakes joins Clare Francis in the riggings. Next week - potting the black with Hurricane Higgins.

The Man said...

There must have been very little money in the kitty that week...

THX said...

I think the most entertaining thing Sir Cliff has done in the past thirty-five years was Wired for Sound (inc. video). But the second most entertaining thing was that outtake where he's singing Some People and is accidentally engulfed in dry ice.

Stegron said...

Absolutely stunning episode this week!

The mighty T-Connection! Gladys Knight! Detroit Emeralds! Hot Chocolate! Close your eyes and even the John Miles song sounds like a more than passable funk / disco-lite tune!

This is surely the most soulful episode yet?

wilberforce said...

a few years back i remember being in the bargain bin section of a record shop, and subjected to one of cliff richard's albums over the speakers - i had to leave before i could finish rummaging, because the sound of his voice was actually making me feel physically ill!

Tyrone Jenkins said...

I think I mentioned in one of my earliest blogs that the 'Toppotron' screen (or an identical version of it) was first used on TOTP as far back as 1964! There is footage from the autumn of that year of Roy Orbison miming to 'Oh, pretty Woman' in what looks like Kew Gardens, with shots alternating between his location performance and the studio audience/'toppotron'. Given the programmes stringent budget requirements I would guess that it was the original mid-60s screen, de-mothballed for the late 70s!

Tyrone Jenkins said...

The above comment's about the sit-com 'Mr Big' have resolved a mini conundrum for me! I remember this slightly strange series quite well but could not remember its title. I suppose I could easily have looked up the Peter Jones Wikipedia site (if there is such a thing!)for this detail. In 1977 Jones also appeared in the popular revival of the early 60s sit-com 'The Rag Trade'.

johnlyons121 said...

Seeing the Herald listings for Reporting Scotland reminds me of a holiday I had with relatives in Glasgow that August. I recall being started at the BBC's use of Fanfare for the Common Man as the theme tune.

The programme went on to use Donna Summer's MacArthur Park and Jeff Wayne's Jubilation. I mean, blimey! Reporting Scotland liked its music BIG. If I were told they were using a Led Zeppelin reworking of Ride of the Valkyries, I don't think I'd have been surprised.

jazzy andy said...

Not a classic this week tho i'm still basking in the warm Welsh glow of last week's Taff-tastic edition. Re references to Travolta style threads - has Saturday Night Fever happened yet in this alternate universe? These dudes may be setters rather than followers of fashion. Cliff with another flop? Winds me up to think of all those interviews in which Stanley Appel solemly explains why big hits by punk and indie bands were so often overlooked. Looking forward to seeing when punk and new wave really does break through on TOTP - and who is it that opens next week's show? Surely it can't top Contempt...

Arthur Nibble said...

Lest we forget, Peter Jones was also the voice of the guide on "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" - nothing to do with milk chocolate or Phil Fearon, who did a sub-standard cover of Tony Etoria's classic.

Only four more posts to go! Making easy work of the bowling so far.

@jazzy_andy said...

Maybe no ELP at the Olympics opening but is anyone else loving the fact that the dance routine includes Tiger Feet? Truly best of British!

Steve Williams said...

The timings of I Wanna Tell You A Story are strange, because looking through the listings this fifty minute episode is the longest of the run, most of them are 45 minutes and there's one in a few weeks that's only 35 minutes.

A 25 minute show in 1977 is always going to be longer than a 25 minute show now because there are fewer trailers and they could be a bit more flexible. I've got a Radio Times from 1983 where they say they sometimes let live shows have a few more minutes so they can finish at the same time as a show on BBC2.

This is like that "half hour" show last year when the 7.30 screening was on Monday and the repeat was still on Thursday and we were all surprised to learn from the repeat there were another two songs in it and the whole show was actually about 34 minutes.

Arthur Nibble with a quick single said...

Tiger Feet! Fantastic! I had a Flashmob-style lads only rendition at my wedding reception three years ago. I emailed a YouTube clip to my mates, asked them to learn it and not tell their wives or girlfriends. Cue 20 blokes frugging away, including my new Dad-in-law who, despite being in his early 70's, Bosnian and having never heard the song before, took his jacket off, gave it to my wife and joined in!

And the crowd in the pavilion are on their feet, the target achived with several wickets to spare...

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

Thanks for your reply Simon re the Toppertron but I don't know what a CSO projection is. I'm guessing it is different to chroma-key. Is the film projected from the front or the back and can anyone answer my question re what happened to the black after the film stopped, it was weird.

BTW I looked up T-Connection. I always assumed they were American but they were from from Nassau in the Bahamas.

Thanks Dave (AKA Bamaboogiewoogie)

Arthur again (sorry, folks) said...

CSO = colour separation overlay. In the early days they used a sky blue backdrop and projected images onto it, if I remember correctly. The subject being filmed in front of the CSO couldn't have any sky blue in it as the article in question would disappear from the projection, e.g. someone wearing a sky blue shirt would look like a torso-less body with head and hands still visible.

wilberforce said...

arthur: i've got the immortal "tiger feet" lined up as part of my school reunion disco later this year - i've already learnt the dance routine and am planning to get a few more "in on the act" closer to the time just like you did...

talking of dance routines, the old "sand dance" by wilson keppel and betty (as shown in max bygraves' show that week) still seems to hold a certain fascination even now - i'm surprised there's not a comptemporary wk&b tribute act out there (maybe someone knows something i don't)...?

btw, i used to live in the same street as max in bournemouth... although he had a mansion overlooking the chines whilst i had to make do with a seedy bedsit ha ha

Simon said...

Of course they really do pack these shows with music, this one has nine songs, a 45-60 second rundown and a hefty chunk of playout and still comes, in full, to 27 and a half minutes. A couple of the half hour shows later in the year feature eleven songs plus start and end. (Having said that, the show after next is billed originally as 30 minutes but the unedited repeat is 35, which is slightly precarious as the shortest song in it is quite a TOTP landmark)

charlie cook said...

I hope this build up for the next show is going to live up to expectations :-)

charlie cook said...

Having re-read that, I apologise for the bad grammar...

80sBlokeInThe70s said...

Noel Edmunds rivalling Dave Lee Travis for worst TOTP presenter of this era - nb the rude and completely unfunny "common men" comment re Hot chocolate and calling Jesse Green Jess Green twice.

I knew we'd never get to the break on the T-Connection tune but an exciting start to the show and the nearest to the wild abandon of the dancing on the pre-1974 shows that we've seen.

As has been mentioned a lot of classy black music in the Top 30 (Gladys Knight, Tony Etoria, Jacksons, George Benson, T-Connection, Kirkland/Davis,Alessi (white I know but similar stuff))

I don't know what all the hating on here about Cliff Richard is about - - and this track WAS a minor hit - just about all the rest of his appearances were decent sized hits so not really similar to the Contempts, 1776s and Neil Innes of the world.And TOTP didn't get much right but thank goodness they kept dire boring indie music off the show as much as they did. It was dance/electronic/disco/rave music that they never embraced IMO indie got far more publicity than it ever warranted.

Talking of which Fat Larry's Band absolute monster "Center City" was lurking just outside the Top 30 this week - I'm sure they could have rummaged up a 'Soul Train' clip of that.

Yeah pity they didn't surprise us by having ELP belt this out at the Olympics opening ceremony last night. But wold it have been one pop cultural in-joke too far?

Arthur Nibble said...

Not only "Tiger feet" last night, but also a snippet of the theme tune to "Pot Black"! Did that make me feel nostalgic!

Simon said...

Hang on, Stanley Appel was only producer between 1991 and 1994. Going through those shows for On This Day he played no more or less chart dance or indie than he should have - the problem was his over-reliance on what would now be called heritage acts, of a Diamond/Streisand type, in the middle of what was set up by then as youth programming.

Mikey said...

Yes, Stanley Appel was in full charge of the show from 1991 to 1994, and your comment on "heritage acts" is spot on. But he was a regular stand-in for many years before that. Starting as a camaraman on the show in 1966, he soon became a Production Assistant and was a Director by the mid-70s. He sometimes produced the show later that decade (as did many others like Phil Bishop) when Robin Nash was increasingly occupied with his management responsibilities and (along with Brian Whitehouse) produced and directed many shows in the 80s when Hurll or Ciani were away.

Regarding these BBC4 repeats, although Appel is a regular Director, I think I'm right that he didn't direct at all from May to November 1976 when Whitehouse was the Producer. But he was back in December when Johnnie Stewart made his brief comeback and from January 1977 when Robin Nash made his return. Did Whitehouse not want Appel as his Director? Both had been Production Assistants in the late 60s and Appel perfomed this role on some subsequent shows when Whitehouse was directing. Was there rivalry? I think they were both born in the same year.

Tyrone Jenkins said...

Sorry to be a 'toppotron' bore, but that mid-60s Roy Orbison/toppotron footage can be accessed on Youtube! It's worth having a gander at this gem in order to compare/contrast with 76/77 model 'toppotron', honest!

Simon said...

And here it is

@jazzy_andy said...

Appel was clearly speaking on behalf of the programme team in the TOTP 1977 documentary when he solemnly explained that punk and new wave bands could only appear if they were new entries or high climbers. Because they were The Rules. Which of course didn't apply if you were a family friendly national treasure, a fading has-been (how many Bolan non hits in his final days?) or Nollie's record of the week. Thus the bending of the rules favoured MOR family fare even more than blanket airplay on the "yoof" radio station. It's a surprise punk ever happened on TOTP given the dice loaded against it. Remember going to Woolies and asking for the latest indie sensation's new single? "Is it in the charts yet?" "How can it be if you don't sell it?" It's the same Catch 22.

richard t said...

Cliff appeared on swap shop singing this song I believe, he used to be on there a lot