Kenny Everett*'s Top Of The Pops record is a slightly odd one. He had a one-off go in November 1967 as co-host with Pete Murray, at a time when the show was working its way through the whole Radio 1 roster checking who might be good on telly - Tony Blackburn had debuted two weeks earlier. Clearly Everett's groundbreaking style hadn't transferred well to the screen just yet but in 1973 there was a sudden outbreak of activity which saw him present six TOTPs in six months, of which this was the last and is the only known survivor. This was almost exactly the length of his final stint on Radio 1 on Sunday afternoons before jumping ship to the breakfast show on the newly minted Capital Radio, which launched on 16th November, and being replaced on the Pops roster by DLT. Bar a cameo on the 25th anniversary show and a play for a video of his later in 1977 this was it for Everett's contribution to the show.
This is additionally TOTP number 501, Kenny having been one of four hosts for number 500 (the majority of which no longer exists - why would you wipe a special 500th edition?), number 499 having seen the debut of the celebrated circular logo. What's more this isn't taken from the original broadcast tape but from the unedited studio rushes, with retakes and errors, and as the original slot was 35 minutes this is an entirely new sort-of-director's cut. Exciting, isn't it?
(* Note for confused future readers: BBC4 made a Kenny Everett docu-drama and this was dredged up to make it a theme night alongside a couple of compilations of his BBC1 shows)
The gaudy-glam titles (which had been introduced those two weeks before, and look like this) are followed by a shot of the entrance, various people milling about before racing out and onstage comes...
Oh, we're off alright. David Cassidy's Puppy Song underpins the rundown, intercut with people dancing awkwardly as was their wont. As a man who looks like Brian Murphy from George & Mildred in a yellow bobble hat stands warily behind Kenny claims he's been "milking things I daren't mention" on the farm until being called to London. It's already fair to say nobody else presents like this.
Electric Light Orchestra – Showdown
There's a transparent umbrella on a stand at the back and the cellists are in full evening dress but the most glaring thing on stage is the breadth and depth of Jeff Lynne's facial hair, covering the entire circumference of his face with extra room to grow outwards, giving him the look of a hirsute deformed doughnut. The back of the set should be mentioned too, presumably a nod to the glamour of the gypsy dancing girl of the titles but instead seemingly based on a weak Barbarella cartoon:
Someone is literally bouncing up and down as we go back to Kenny, who is propositioning a female audience member STOP IT with a phrase that changed some of its intended meaning in the subsequent two decades: "what you doing after the show? We've got a rave going on in the pigsty if you fancy..." His mock attempt to regain composure leads him calling the song Raining All Over The World.
Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Then he calls this Goodbye Yellow Rose Of Kentucky, which means you can't tell whether that was deliberate or not. Not so much a video as a travelogue, this, as Elton stands in a variety of rooms, walks around an orchard, wanders around Sunset Boulevard, puts his arm round a man in a cowboy hat outside the Nudie Suit manufacturers and lets the camera linger a little too long on a Hollywood Boulevard shop called Drug King.
Michael Ward – Let There Be Peace On Earth (Let It Begin With Me)
Would have been here, except being longer than the slot (with no repeat) something had to give, and the youngest winner of Opportunity Knocks was it. Seems we also lost an interview, which is a shame just for how that would have played out between manaical in-character Everett and naive Ward.
Status Quo – Caroline
"Tony Blackburn gets fresh sets of teeth every day, but me..." One of Quo's 728 show appearances or whatever they're claiming now causes a number of youngsters at the front to hop from foot to foot, this presumably how rock was greeted in the days before the loudness wars, except for a small child in a tank top right by the back of the stage who is running on the spot. It should have caught on. A girl on the opposite side attempts to make small talk with her David Essex-resembling partner to little effect. Drummer John Coughlan, looking exquisitely bored at the front, looks the model for Derek Smalls of Spinal Tap. Throughout Quo are denimed and ready to go.
The Detroit Spinners – Ghetto Child
For some reason Kenny is in a star frame. Cuddling Camera 1 he throws to Pan's People, here in their classic Babs/Dee Dee/Ruth/Louise/TOCG lineup. They begin by... spinning across the stage, there, then back. Nothing gets past Flick. In full red jumpsuits with flared trousers, which is pretty much what you'd expect from a fully covered Pan's People wardrobe, there's some lining up and moving out in order, then some fun with raising arms against a backlit sheet which means spending whole choruses looking away from us.
Engelbert Humperdinck – Love Is All
Kenny noisily kisses one of the wall adornments ("cheese and onion!" Not unreasonably at least one audience member looks disturbed at this) as Brian Murphy grins his features off. Why didn't they keep this caption on?
Because it doesn't make sense, I suppose. Enge, face of woodstain and days in heavy wind, sideburns big enough to hide woodland mammals in, stares down an audience that looks oddly small in number and big ballads them into pliant submission. When he hits the break and the orchestra brass section is blaring away he gazes contentedly into the lighting gantry and then straightens out the mike lead. Massive notes, massive cymbals, Vegas ending, but even those swaying gently at the start are making like Easter Island heads, apart from the man in a leather jacket who chooses the apex of the climactic held note to check his watch ostentatiously. The applause is notable sparing. "Eee, what a grand song! What fun we're having!" Kenny lies. Then he collapses.
Slade – My Friend Stan
People don't tend to remember the period Slade experimented with John McCririck as singer.
Jim Lea's piano has two MY FRIEND STAN stickers on, as does Noddy's underused guitar. Yeah, but when you come to the next single (Merry Xmas Everybody, as it goes) you try getting all the bits off. By his standards Dave Hill is toned down in a kimono and sporting his infamous 'SUPER YOB' guitar. Not as much stomping as you'd imagine but a lot of moving and clapping along, including one woman out on her own in a floor-length gown. She must have thought her partner was taking her somewhere better.
Limmie & The Family Cookin' – Dreamboat
Oh, but they had money to burn on graphic design in those days. After complementing a woman's "fine set of udders" - ohhhh, everyone - Kenny, reading off the script in his hand, introduces their "second in a long series of two hits", which is as unintentionally cutting as anything Noel would later come out with. The camera then moves from gantry to stage like a guided missile, a floor manager in its path attempting to half-heartedly duck before almost literally running for his life. Some sort of graphical representation of rainfall threatens to get in the way but disappears as the vocals start, leaving a very clean shot - three singers on stage, audience awkwardly shuffling in front. It's when the director gets clever and, say, closes in out of focus on someone's hoop earring that overcomplicates things. Helpfully we see the camera encroach on that side of the trio shortly afterwards, surely blocking lots of people's view. The pan back finds five young men not quite sure what they're doing being looked at like that, before the reveal that Kenny is sitting on the floor. "Can I bring some cows next week? They're housetrained" he supposedly asks the director via a yellow box of indeterminate source.
Simon Park Orchestra – Eye Level
"Here's a group that's just like a violin, all varnished and covered in string". None of that makes sense, but given the time and no prior knowledge neither does an orchestra of men in mustard coloured jumpers being number one. The theme to Van Der Valk, of course, given the full live treatment, and it's fair to say Park does his job better than Martyn Ford later would. Kenny does a strange bandy legged walk, gibbers before falling over by way of exit, and Nutbush City Limits over the credits as the camera focuses largely on another camera. That was 1973, then. Can't we stay here?