Friday, 9 November 2012

The Alternative TOTP Canon #43: Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Two Tribes

It's hard to think of a single that's been performed more often on TOTP, seven times in the studio in all. This sixth, to mark its ninth and last week at the top, is by a comfortable margin the most ostentatious, beginning with Patrick Allen captioning and Holly very deliberately ripping up a copy of the Sun in retaliation for a piece about the band. Note that front page lead which appears to read 'STREET STAR VERA FACES SACK', and sure enough Liz Dawn only stayed on Corrie for another twenty-four years. The rest, apart from Ped Gill and Mark O'Toole swapping instruments, is that of a band given yet another chance to get across the message and succeeding by some distance - the white suits, the flags both hanging up and handed out to the audience, the loudspeakers, the cane, the two coming together, an enormous wattage of flashing lights, Holly's walkabout limited when he realises how small the studio and its number of inhabitants really is. Listen to the volume of that reaction.

1 comment:

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

Aah August 1984, this was Frankie telling the world they were winning about a year before they checked their bank balances and realised they weren't. I remember this performance so well. I was working at Our Price Records when this was number one and I bought several versions of all of the bands first three hits (I got a 30% discount). Thanks for posting this Simon.

There are some great moment here, not all of them intentional. Holly's gimmick of thumbing through a copy of The Sun and then tearing it up goes to prove how difficult it is to turn the pages of a newspaper with gloves on (he almost doesn't quite make it in time). There is also the problem of strutting down steps while wearing dark glasses leading to Holly nervously checking the way is clearing by glancing down before he sets off. Only Holly could employ a walking cane for a studio walkabout.

The crowd look remarkably calm about the walkabout thing suggesting that they had rehearsed it. I like the way Paul Rutherford at one point sings into his carnation flower before chucking it away it disgust, but he looses points for mis-timing his cue when Holly gets back on stage - watch how he goes to sing and then just stops himself and turns away from the mic - how many time has he mimed to this?.

I love the fact that 'The Lads' all swapped instruments (an idea borrowed from The Stranglers and The Specials who both did variations on the same thing) not that they were playing them on the record of course (was that revealed to be The blockheads?). And I also like the fact that when the camera zooms in on Ped in the middle bit he is clouded in dry ice so we can't quite see him (not a bad thing) and Holly's business of brandishing his walking cane and then hooking it on the loud speaker but it falls off just before the end.