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
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.