Thursday, 27 September 2012

TOTP 25/8/77 (tx 27/9/12): your super soaraway show

So you've heard the news? A continuation onto 1978 confirmed by two well placed sources, documentary (gnnh) and all?

Yeah, another year of my having to bash this out every Thursday night. The precious days before death never pass by so quickly.

It's the 700th TOTP, not that anyone mentions it. Instead Noel begins by giggling at something unstated before Donna Summer's Down Deep Inside soundtracks, at a more leisurely pace than usual, the rundown. "What with all the rotten weather we're having at the moment we could do with a bit of Summer" Noel overreaches, while also somehow predicting the exact climate during which this show would be first repeated. He must be some sort of warlock.

The Rods – Do Anything You Wanna Do
Back in the opening slot for the third time, only this time with an actual hit to call their own. Barrie Masters' stage schtick we all know about by now, chest proudly flashed, eyes glaring through the lens, springing back and forth from and to the stage's edge. The band don't quite look as right, though, as amid the feather cuts and mirroring shades one of the guitarists is wearing bottle bottom glasses and bears a blank expression, giving him not the appearance of a rock'n'roll monster but a well-meaning pharmacist involved in a hilarious mix-up. Not that that's any bearing on Masters and his wrist sweatbands, coming right up to the camera at one stage like he's cajoling us personally in between the space commanding, which in a way he always was. It's later revealed the cameraman has taken up the front centre position, possibly to avoid a repeat of last week's Midge Girl fiasco, though force of show repetition means plenty of movement. Hang on, who's that on the other stage clearly visible in the background - well, it's a group of women in matching hot pants, given time and place there's a limited number of options here - with their backs to all the action?

Elvis Presley – Way Down
There's a lot of lighting around a Gill Rosie-free Legs & Co's little play area too, set up as a kind of lit catwalk with Toppotron™ repurposed at one end for stills shots and close-ups of bulbs. All they've been hiding is T-shirts with 'ELVIS' in sequins and, for some reason, chiffon chokers. The routine sees them take it in turns and in various permutations to variously bounce, shimmy and soft shoe shuffle down the runway - at one point Rosie Gill runs up to its edge looking for all the world like she's about to dive full-length off the end. The main query is how come the ultrabaritone "way on dowwwwn..." close to each chorus is marked by the troupe sticking their hands in the air. Optimism clearly abounds, though that'd be inherent in having an upbeat dance routine as a tribute to someone's recent death. Having watched three minutes of leggy kicking and scampering amid bright bulbs, which seems to end with all five turning to face Elvis' image and giving a Hitler salute, Noel's tone suggests we've actually just been watching a state funeral.

The Boomtown Rats – Lookin' After No. 1
The Rats' official site claims they were "the first new-wave band to be offered an appearance on Top Of The Pops", which must be news to, oh, loads. Ask Jensen. "There's a mystery badge sticker, well, there's badges..." Noel has two, but declines to say where these might have been cropping up. "Bit of social comment for you, listen to the lyrics" he advises, which may say a little too much about his psyche. There was a time when the other things people came to know the Rats experience for - Johnny Fingers' pyjamas, a manaical looking Pete Briquette smaller than the drum kit (or a huge riser) - were new. In half-done up tie, smartish leather jacket and manageable hair there's something a little too precise about Bob on this first exposure to the big time he will eventually claim as his own. Not that the catalogue rebel or Ayn Rand-rock angle seems to matter, as the reaction to this outbreak of energy and nerviness is massive, most of the audience actually bouncing just three months after the same behaviour to the Jam was getting solitary people glares as Geldof air guitars around his knees, does more exuding straight into a nearby camera (one we clearly nearly lose at one point so much does it wobble) and then completely disappears from the director's view for nearly a whole verse, which makes you wonder what he must have been doing. Rather suspiciously they all join in, even the man in the boater, with the pointing towards the stage/punching the air on the power chords of the chorus of a song most of them, were this a normal cross-section, can surely have never heard before. Still, as Bob drops to his knees at the climax its new broom aura is hard to deny. Noel looks vaguely displeased.

Deniece Williams – That’s What Friends Are For
In what can only be described as a tightly cut dress Deniece appears in the middle of a floral frame design and delivers some easy soul lovin', nowhere near as slow as you'd think.

Thin Lizzy – Dancin' In The Moonlight (It's Caught Me In Its Spotlight)
"They've got that little bit extra style" Noel marvels as if they're a brand new group who need barely workable aphorisms of praise rather than a third appearance for this one song that's still only at 23. This sense of style apparently extends as far as Phil's massive shiner - could be makeup, but it seems unlikely - caught in harsh unforgiving extreme close-up for quite some time at the very outset as if someone really wanted it to be seen. Two open shirts, an actual sax player in a 'THIN LIZZY READING '77" T-shirt which I'd like to think was a specially commissioned one of a kind just to show off and, again, as responsive a crowd as you've ever seen on this rerun.

Space – Magic Fly
"It's fairly unusual for instrumentals to do so well" remarks Noel on a programme that has an instrumental still to come on a show, and about a chart, that's recently had The Crunch and The Shuffle on at the top end. Lots of people seem to recall this video of fractals and soundwaves on visors, heavy analogue keyboards played like keytars, gold girl dancer and some very brusque drumming, which both looks and sounds like the sort of thing ITV used to put on when programmes underran but, like so much else this week, as we go back to a shot of Noel from behind next to the video on Toppotron™ to some indifferent bopping, you can't help but feel here is the future in microcosm.

The Adverts – Gary Gilmore's Eyes
As in its own way is this, and this is by any yardstick A Bit Of That Sort Of Rock. This repeat has already quashed an urban legend, that the show couldn't find a picture of the Adverts when they charted so put in the rundown a shot of Australian cricket Gary Gilmour; now, they look like they're putting another to rest with a live in-studio vocal. Not a very well mixed live vocal, TV Smith nearly inaudible for the first two lines, but a live vocal nonetheless. Smith proves one doesn't have to approach the camera, or let go of the mike stand come to that, to resemble an epitome of seething frontman energy and barely harnessed anger while wearing a jacket absolutely festooned with badges and accessories. What looks like miles away from everyone else, early black nail varnish adopter Gaye Advert smoulders in a leather jacket looking, almost certainly deliberately, one middle button away from emulating Masters and Lynott's style tip. Howard Pickup, who gets far more screen time than her, has a badge on that is wider than the tie it's affixed to. Drummer Laurie Driver's T-shirt depicts either a sex doll or a shocked Frank Sidebottom. Even those who went nuts for the Boomtown Rats don't know what to make of this beyond some distracted minor bouncing.

Page Three – Hold On To Love
In case you thought the show's batting average was rather too high this week.. That'll be three actual Page Three girls, then, in skintight leopardskin bodysuits off one shoulder. Gaye Advert, would that you were here today. Now, for those of you thinking along Glamourpuss lines, don't be so hasty, as it's far more Surprise Sisters level. It's not that Rula Lenska-haired frontwoman Felicity Buirski can't sing per se - in fact she later became a singer-songwriter and has some sort of connection with Leonard Cohen - it's that, also singing live, her voice has something but it's unsuited to the style. And it's not that her colleagues can't si...oh. They can't really do their dance actions, such as they are, together either, the two at the back reaching for the sky just out of sync as Buirski does some sort of tiger clawing action, which I suppose is appropriate for the attire. Having been slow to the uptake for the last band there's definite mass boppage now, which presumably means they were either up for anything or stylistically unfussy. Noel looks confused. "Wash your brain out from all those naughty thoughts" he adds. DLT would never have said that.

The Floaters – Float On
No show without punch. Astrological pulling as seen last week follows. "I'm on BBC2 in a couple of minutes but don't tell anybody" Noel drops in - curiously, as part of a season of the best BBC programming since the Jubilee, BBC2 showed an eighty minute Swap Shop compilation at 7.40pm that evening, thus elevating a show less than a year old. Jean Michel Jarre's Oxygene plays us out under a tracking studio shot not through the kaleidoscope prism this week but through some sort of reflective cone, as if they'd sawed the end off a trombone and used that in a special effect emergency.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

TOTP 18/8/77 (tx 20/9/12): sunshine, nights and the stars

Firstly, that short T.Rex clip posted last week? The whole thing has now surfaced. There's a second keyboard player doing Gloria Jones' supposed parts! Swizz!

Clipped straightforward DLT, Stranglers' Something Better Change under the rundown, the Fleetwood Mac slide moved so we can see Mick's face.

The Dooleys – Think I'm Gonna Fall In Love With You
A band who'd become semi-regulars in the coming years, not actually on their debut - that was on the wiped show a fortnight previously - but dressed for their big break, Jim Dooley in the requisite half-open shirt and medallion unnecessarily tightened around his thorax, one sister in a cocktail bar evening dress, the other pushing the boat out in velvet full-length skirt and open jacket with tube top. She's not shy about casually pushing the side of the jacket aside to show her full worth either. At least all this preparation is something when allied to a form of disco that started out showband weak and is now fed through the orchestral mangle.

The Floaters – Float On
No, hang on, that's not it. "I've got some loonies up here" DLT remarks, which is two-faced of him given they're women and thus he doubtless chose them to join him. One seems to be rivalling Dooley Left in the cold studio stakes. (This is beginning to seem unseemly already, isn't it? I do apologise) The Jonathan Cainers of smooth soul are on tape, having like half the other smooth soul troupes we've seen fallen for the popularity of powder blue suits, bow ties and ruffled shirts in mid-70s Detroit. Maybe someone had a knock-off job lot going.

Elkie Brooks – Sunshine After The Rain
"A lot of people were really, really pleased" by her hit, apparently. Shooting her from underneath is an unkind way to repay the compliment, though, BBC. Curiously the theme for the week is overalls, red one-piece with zip and brooch that looks a lot like that worn by Mr Dooley for Elkie, pristine white for her band, including a drummer with a bravura perm. A four way mirrored shot attempts to add the visual element that costumes and plants used to provide, but the main note to take away is one horrid line of off-key harmony twixt Brooks and Ladybirds, who you may recall used to be her friends. Still, when it lifts at the end the audience seem keen, including one young chap literally spinning into the middle of the crowd shot. As the camera slowly pans back, DLT is miming along to the last words. I hope he wasn't doing that for effect as thinking he sings along with everything would explain a lot.

Mink De Ville – Spanish Stroll
"Brother Johnny, he caught a plane and he got on it". Yeah, we'd kind of been led to assume that. Faux-live clip, which reveals the backing vocalists to all be men. DLT bemoans "all that foreign lingo".

Carly Simon – Nobody Does It Better
Go on, guess how DLT linked into Legs & Co using the song title as leverage. No sitting down this week, and Flick must have had words as everyone's gone all out on their behalf. The stage has various levels and steps to work around. The set has funny round things hung all around like the curtain between the kitchen and counter in a cheap kebab house. The costumes use flesh-coloured materials and glitter to give a barely-there look, coupled with slit full length skirts, long gloves and a variety of cummerbunds. The routine veers from elegant solo spots to bits where everyone seems to just be doing their own sets of crouches and spins, which if you look closely are actually in pattern but on simultaneous viewing look a bit of a mess. They also have those eyemasks-on-sticks things that probably have a proper name, but only Gill seems to use hers for their proper purpose at one moment, as opposed to wafting them about like a rhythmic gymnastic implement.

Danny Williams – Dancin' Easy 
One of the girls now with DLT has 'Midge' picked out in glitter on her T-shirt. You can tell the Slik kids a mile away. Taking "the anchor position", as DLT renames number 30, Danny's gone for the suave white suit this time. Half the audience join him two lines in, as if all suddenly realising it's that one from that advert simultaneously, and begin bopping on the spot immediately. In the background Legs & Co can be seen leaving their set to put coats on before they catch their deaths. Given two options of where to look, a good proportion of the audience chooses the third and stares at the overhead monitors. A man in a suit stands side of stage impassively throughout, watching the kids more than the singer. Security? Really? A red shirted friend joins him later on, ready to leap onto the stage right at the end, and tries to barge past an audience member despite surely not heading anywhere. Williams and his brown wing collars continues effervescently on regardless.

The Rah Band – The Crunch
Again. According to someone on Twitter the subtitles read 'STOMPIN' RHYTHM & BLUES PLAYED ON AN ELECTRIC KEYBOARD'. DLT claims he can get bin liners cheap. I bet he can.

Candi Staton – Nights On Broadway
A triumph of Flick-esque literalism in video making as Candi in an ambitious pink trouser suit sings from Broadway. At night. "I'm standing in the dark" she sings under film lighting. Then she sits on the bonnet of a Cadillac. Hope she asked first.

The Jam – All Around The World
Like Danny Williams, the Jam's set is flanked by a huge spiral of red lightbulbs, which they must be proud of as it keeps prominently appearing in a suspiciously large number of side-on shots. Unlike Danny Williams, Weller is wearing shades. If Williams had been given enough weeks, though... Midge Girl is standing right front and centre, angry young men proselytizing youth explosions right beside her, and she's standing side on chatting to someone. This happened last time the Jam were on. Were these really the salad days of punk's life if the youth are not only feigning ignorance but doing it so pointedly?

Elvis Presley – Loving You
Or so it says here, Elvis having died two days previously. It seems to have been cut for rights reasons - it was a clip from the film of the same name and the Presley estate are a lot more hard on that sort of thing being rebroadcast these days, especially as the Beeb don't hold the UK broadcast rights. When a run of Elvis reissues reached number one in 2005 the show was banned from broadcasting any actual footage of him.

Brotherhood Of Man – Angelo 
After an age, it finally makes it to the top. Despite this, for once they're not available to come in. Space's synth odyssey Magic Fly sees us out.

Michael Hurll 1936-2012

When people call for Top Of The Pops to return, it's not really the era we're re-experiencing at the moment they're thinking of, and it's certainly not the last few years of its existence. No, the image that comes to the forefront is the party era of most of the 1980s - neon strips, bright lights, abandonment in dancing, judiciously handed out flags, dry ice for ballads, not as many party hats or deelyboppers as easy nostalgia suggests. All that came under the auspices, between 1980 and 1987, of Michael Hurll, who died on Tuesday.

For all the wonders of this current 1977 run, it's been often noted how sterile a lot of it seems in more than just musical ways, audiences stagnant, sets drab, presenters either going through the motions or using it as their personal pun depository. Taking over as producer after a nine week blackout, Hurll's changes were immediate - the TOTP orchestra was scrapped, the rundown moved from the start of the show and an element of star quality was introduced, whether through the not always successful run of co-hosts or the regular big name guest chats. A relaunch the following July, which brought in new titles and Yellow Pearl as the show's first permanently used theme tune in four years, was an opportunity to overhaul the show's whole look and feel. Whether influenced by the rise of the proper dancefloor scene or the uninhibited nature of US studio audiences, Hurll saw it as his duty to make the audience as much a part of the experience, and while that led down the not ageing well route of cheerleaders and dancers leading on and getting in the front of shot all the time, the redesign of the set to feature more of the crowd and cajoling of punters to let go and enjoy the entertainment gave it a fresh feel. It could have looked like a party you weren't invited to, but amid all that Hurll still recognised, as later holders of his post wouldn't, that whatever else happened the music was still the reason people tuned in. He wasn't afraid to make tough decisions, Jimmy Savile and Flick Colby, names and associated activities synonymous with the show, were both phased out in 1983; the playlist was firmly concentrated on records within the top 40, no matter who made them as long as they were available, perhaps making sore thumbs all the more memorable - if Gillan or Killing Joke did crop up, just turn the lighting down a bit.

But TOTP was never intended as a serious minded show, of the type that once having had an in-house orchestra as standard backing and would have Simon May in regularly might suggest, and a perhaps coincidental rise in new artists dressing up and playing about with pop imagery helped it seem more up to date and glitzy than previously. If it did ever start to seem too frothy there was always some way of undercutting it, whether that be a guitar group with ideas (the Smiths, the Associates) or a presentational attitude. John Peel had been one of many Radio 1 DJs given a trial run at presenting in 1968, made a mess of it and thought that'd be it for TV. Hurll convinced him to come back, and when he brought in presenting duos in 1983 his Rhythm Pals partnership with Jensen, the pair encouraged to raid the wardrobe department and come up with their own introductions, may be the show's most fondly remembered.

A man with an anecdote for pretty much every entertainer of a working lifetime that spanned more than half a century, Hurll's light entertainment expertise saw him relied upon to helm the Royal Variety Show, Comic Relief and the Eurovision Song Contest. The British Comedy Awards were his idea; also on his impressive production CV were Blind Date, the Late Late Breakfast Show, Crackerjack, Cannon & Ball, Entertainment USA, Seaside Special and The Two Ronnies, the latter simultaneously with his TOTP work, hence the accuracy of this sketch.

Janice Long has been among those paying tribute. Hurll's family have asked for donations to be made to Parkinsons UK.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

TOTP 11/8/77 (tx 13/9/12): Rods have their own back

The recent connection troubles at this end meant we've missed the opportunity to mark a couple of recent TOTP-related deaths. Jerry Nelson, who died on 25th August aged 78, had worked as part of Jim Henson's company since 1965 and was best known as the voice of Count von Count (he also did Statler for a while and innumerable minor characters), but it's him voicing Robin on Halfway Down The Stairs, the tender AA Milne-penned song that never failed to send Noel into giggles.

More pertinently for Pops, we lost Louise Clarke a couple of weeks short of her 63rd birthday. She wasn't strictly a founder member of Pan's People, joining a year after they were initially set up and not appearing with them on TOTP until May 1968, a month after their debut, but she was there through their imperial phase, leaving after almost exactly six years, the famous Homely Girl routine her swansong, to get married and start a family. Here's a tribute to her work.

Meanwhile, many have noted the letter in this week's Radio Times in response to praise for this series/year that "it has no immediate plans to show the 1978 series, but is keeping that decision under review". The reading from our end: calm down. It doesn't say they're not going to, it says essentially they don't know. BBC4 won't have made any plans for next year (apart from a couple of already announced special seasons, but that's different) by the end of August when RT would have started being put to bed and they didn't announce or start working on '77 until some way into October.

Back to this week. (Well, the week we're up to in 1977, but you know what I mean) Kid's in charge and literally showing his true colours in a red and white lace-up top emblazoned with a maple leaf motif and, in case the subtlety was lost, 'CANADA' in big diagonal letters. We later see '74' is emblazoned on the maple leaf. No idea. The countdown is restored, as is only correct, to the top of the show, and Kid has a countdown of his own to add as Jonathan Richman's Roadrunner is the chart rundown music. Kid then does a voiceover link into the first song, ruining the ever fun element of surprise and anticipation. Or maybe not, in this case.

Showaddywaddy – You Got What It Takes
"Unmistakeably Showaddywaddy" at that, though surely that doesn't take into account all the original rock and roll bands and all the songs they cover, this included. We do at least know the drill now, wherein Dave Bartram and his lush, tumbling, vitality-filled locks attempts to look appealing towards crowd and camera in turn, coupled with the odd bit of visual comedy double take. Very low forms of visual comedy, admittedly, when it constitutes looking quizzically at his open palm for the line "with your money we won't get far". This time the drapes seem to be colour coded by instrument, with the allotted backing singers in canary yellow meaning despite it being mostly hidden by Bartram's head we can kind of get the gist of their middle eight routine involving spinning, kicking and the ever present notion there's got to be more dignified ways to come across on television, as Bartram goes on to glad-hand the front row and plant a smacker on some girl's forehead. Meanwhile Buddy Gask does his single basso profundo vocal and wonders when that supposed joint lead singer role is going to come up again. To close everyone turns their back on the audience as a mystery invisible sax solos away.

Steve Gibbons Band – Tulane
Hard to describe the motion Kid makes into this, a kind of swung arm round towards camera into leg-aided air guitar power chord. Splendidly, with only two to choose from the intended opening close-up on the guitar strings chosen by the director is on the rhythm, which has two notes to play, rather than that playing the distinctive lead riff. A Chuck Berry cover, rock and roll business is conducted by a man who's really tried to look the part - receding pompadour, white shirt and leather trousers, one handed confident mike stance leading to full knee knocking once the mike is in his hand, looks, like Alvin Stardust, far too old for all this. As for his band the bassist is wearing the cap of a stereotypical camp biker - as he is in their countdown photo and was last time we checked in, maybe it was his "thing" - while I still can't work out whether both guitarists have moustaches or not. The audience are into it, at least one young couple jiving as much as what they understand jiving to look like. Even better, one long shot reveals two men in a committed full-on rendition of that shoulder-first routine usually carried out by men in distressed denim jackets at Status Quo gigs or on stage with Mud doing Tiger Feet. Not for the last time tonight, Kid appears alone in the distance, slapping the side of his thigh in time to the beat during the instrumental break. Kid promises more for "the rock fans" later.

Barry Biggs – Three Ring Circus
Repeat. The seated one rather than the ringmaster one, sadly.

The Rods – Do Anything You Wanna Do
Not a mistake, Eddie & The Hot Rods traded under this name for a little while, presumably to make people think they were a hot new young punk band. It seems to have worked on Kid, who goes falsetto by the end of declaiming the title having enthused "this has got to be one of the best rhythm and rock records this year". Rhythm And Rock, for those who don't recall, was the more ostensibly commercial parallel to A Bit Of That Sort Of Rock. Not that the band are hiding anything, Barrie Masters still restlessly stalking and covering every inch of the stage and gurning between occasionally mimed lines in white jeans and an open shirt, occasionally grabbing the above the crotch area of his huge belt. Of course there's a member, the bassist, in dark glasses. Less punk-like, he's also wearing a yellow and black striped headband.

Rita Coolidge – We're All Alone
Well, this is quite rum. "The mood is mellow" maybe but not so literally, surely. For one thing, surely it's a late replacement given we've seen the video twice, but it's not clear what it might have replaced. Tavares' One Step Away seems most likely as it had been hovering around a central position before suddenly falling right out of the top 30, while Mink DeVille's Spanish Stroll had entered the top 50 the week before but hadn't quite yet made the rundown. Danny Williams' Dancin' Easy, surprisingly sticking at 32? The Ramones' Swallow My Pride, which entered at 36 the previous week but fell? We can but ponder and create unlikely mental images. Anyway, We're All Alone it is. The troupe, in non-fetching shades of electric blue/mauve and orange dresses with matching legwarmers, start lying on their backs and kind of stay there. Not just like that, obviously, even Flick would be called into question were it a tableau rather than routine no matter how clearly properly undanceable for slowness reasons the song is. No, from there is carved out a succession of seated positions, Oops Upside Your Head-recalling bends and lunges, rolls, crawls and just about every combination of arm and leg bending and swinging, closing with an extreme close-up on... well, I can rarely get them right when their faces are the right way up, but I think it's Gill... whoever, she's making something akin to devil eyes at us, perhaps hoping for something upbeat soon. It's more like a gymnastic floor exercise routine-cum-keep fit video on 2x fast forward and for all we know might have constituted an ongoing sit-down protest following Roadrunner's seated delivery. And not a cacti in sight either.

Thin Lizzy – Dancin' In The Moonlight (It's Caught Me In It’s Spotlight)
"From some delightful Lizzies..." Eh? I double checked, he does say "Lizzies". As seems traditional with Lizzy - and that's what Kid calls them at the end so it's an official diminutive - it's a repeat, slow dancers and all. Perhaps inspired by the Rods, Kid calls them just "Lizzy".

Delegation – You've Been Doing Me Wrong
Delegation were soul's own Liverpool Express, clearly. In very Seventies ruffled white suits over paisley patterned shirts and huge bow ties and embarking on choreographed knee lifting, they can't quite disguise that they've just slowed You To Me Are Everything down a bit, or that the first verse is clearly supposed to be in three part harmony but the Willie Thorne one either has been written out of the part at late notice or can't be bothered to lift the mike to his mouth but is gamely miming along anyway. After that he's always just slightly out of the movement routine, glancing across more out of blind hope than checking, sometimes affecting a half turn to make it seem more noticeable. The main singer isn't well served by shooting from below either given it means we can see the gap in the front of his teeth all the clearer. When the camera pans back to Kid he's swaying gently sat in the lotus position grinning to himself, as if in the midst of a pleasant flashback.

Fleetwood Mac – Dreams
A few more seconds than last time of the live clip, I reckon. "Isn't that fabulous?" Kid says. Maybe if we saw more of it.

J.A.L.N. Band – I Got To Sing
"Back to the disco scene", apparently. Apart from the keyboard player in grey slacks hoping we won't notice because of his instrument, more white suits all round. Was there someone unscrupulous going round the dressing rooms? Plausible given the horn section, who so clearly aren't regular members of the band they should have had their own caption. If the singer gets any closer to the edge of the stage for the verses he'll be dragged in, and he can't say he wasn't warned. Maybe that's why he's not concentrating on his miming, missing half a line at one point. Or maybe he's just terrible at it, not clear in his own mind whether vocals are lead or backing by the end. He's completely disrespecting the title of his own band's song in that.

Donna Summer – I Feel Love
Week four of four atop, and evidently not a moment too soon for the show. Obviously we don't know what they did in week three, but given week two involved slides and seated lunges you'd have put good money on a kaleidoscopic image of a potter's wheel or similar by now. Instead once Kid has symbolically clutched at his heart it's the escape hatch once more, but with a twist - Donna's passport photos on Toppotron™ once more, awkward dancing in semi-darkness again, but in the distance five sixths of Legs & Co swish their long dresses about in strict formation - shimmy, dip left shoulder, shimmy shoulders, dip right shoulder. In other words, a standing version of the routine they developed from within RoadRunner, and just as then most people aren't paying the blindest bit of attention. Five, though? Sue's the odd one out as she faces off and shimmies on a raised corner of the set with... Floyd! The man for all emergencies. Sue's still wearing her outfit from earlier, from which we must assume her colleagues are too, and we now see a bit of netting on the front, which we see the rest moving around a bit during the chorus. The little details lost on the big stages. To fully cap this mise-en-scene of disco shaking, visible in his colours right in front of the Legs & Co quorum is Kid. He's dancing. Or so the intention seems anyway, his style developing over time from some awkward rhythmic (but not rockist) finger clicking to full-on shifting from side to side in an approximation of getting down with the groove, apparently not only completely unaware and out of time with what's immediately behind him but with everyone else too. We're allowed just the 1:50 this week before Kid, still shifting in one spot with a little arm movement too, delivers the coup de grace before resuming with even more gusto as the song continues to play us out: "from me, Kid Jensen, it's goodbye and good love!" Yep, the full version. It's been a while.

By the time Pops returned the following week, there'd been a death in the family.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

TOTP 28/7/77 - the best of the rundown photos

Fred Smith wasn't really male model material, but this result of a rehearsal room surprise shot seems unfair:

The accuracy unit of OK, You Win and Ma Boney fame strike again, and this wasn't even her first hit:

A lovely family photo:

Just think, if there'd been a couple of old dears already waiting the opportunity would have been lost:

Life lesson: you cannot resemble a well drilled fighting machine while wearing yellow drapes.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The disappeared: 4/8/77

Funny how it looks like, by the sheerest of coincidences, all four wiped TOTPs from 1977, the last four wiped shows in its history, will all fall on Sky At Night weeks. This is the Savile-helmed penultimate, with...

The Jam – All Around The World
Again, and it'll come back round one further time.

The Rah Band – The Crunch
For the third time. One dreads to think of Jimmy's intro.

Brotherhood Of Man – Angelo
For the fourth time. You'd better grow to like this.

Billy Paul – Your Song
Last time Paul was on he was rewriting a 70s hit for politicised means. Taupin's lyrics remain the same this time and lacking the room to elucidate it seems more Jesse Green-like than the classic big hearted soul man in a hat. The Ladybirds would have ruined it anyway.

Candi Staton – Nights On Broadway
We'll see the video to this Bee Gees-penned light groove a couple more times but this is a Legs & Co spot, and you can probably imagine there'll be back projections and possibly some sort of top-hat-and-tails costume?

The Dooleys – Think I’m Gonna Fall In Love With You
Their debut. You'll see this again, and you'll see them again a lot, another seventeen times down the years.

Television – Prove It
Oh, BBC. The celebrated New York punk-but-more-technically-gifted pioneers had already gone top 30 once this year and this spent three weeks on the chart countdown, the band were in the country and willing to appear on the show, and the Corporation copied over the tape. On such fate do innumerable future BBC4 showings hang. Hardly anybody online even seems to remember it going out. Imagine what a nation would have made of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd on their screens. Imagine what sort of band name-related link Jimmy would have come up with.

The Stranglers – Straighten Out
The video for half of the double A-side with Something Better Change, though unlike Peaches the show doesn't pretend the other half never existed. Strange that they weren't making themselves available after all the play Go Buddy Go got.

Deneice Williams – That’s What Friends Are For
Another video you'll come to see again.

Smokie – It’s Your Life
Third and last showing for this single by the virtual TOTP house band.

The Floaters – Float On
Scorpio, and his name is Jimmy. Now if you like a song that loves its sweet talk, and like a song that chartwise can hold its own, this fits that description so watch the video.

Donna Summer – I Feel Love
As I say, Flick had to come up with a new routine every week it was at number one. It was already getting a little two weeks in.