Monday, 24 December 2012

TOTP 25/12/77 (tx 24/12/12): no Beatles, Elvis or Rolling Stones in 1977('s Christmas Day TOTP)

Well, that's another year done with. Let's start with the six most read posts of 2012 to date, inevitably affected by events but with a heartening end:

6 TOTP 7/4/77 (tx 19/4/12): boxing clever: two clips from Soul Train do some of the legwork, but the central conceit is Legs & Co's boxing exhibition to Love Hit Me. In the comments Brendon's bassist posts PDFs of two TOTP shooting scripts.

5 TOTP 12/5/77 (tx 24/5/12): bee sharp: bees, steel drums, streamers, wine bottles, orchestras, Billy Paul having to recreate his own samples, Lee Brilleaux... the maddest show of the year, where Jimmy comes on quarter of the way through in a wig and suit professing to be his brother Percy and in context it seems perfectly normal.

4 TOTP 22/9/77 (tx 18/10/12) open thread: the first Pops after the series of unfortunate events, emotional balm provided by working out whether Hank The Knife was wearing a wig, why dry ice was so upsetting Jean-Jacques Burnel and whether Stardust's singer was Paul Whitehouse in disguise.

3 The disappeared: 17/11/77: the first skipped show for which video evidence could be provided, featuring Noosha Fox, Brighouse and Rastrick's finest and Bob Geldof's noogieing. Numbers boosted by being linked to from all over the place, including David Icke's forum.

2 TOTP 25/8/77 (tx 27/9/12): your super soaraway show: Legs & Co take to the catwalk in Elvis' honour, Noel sports a Boomtown Rats badge and the Adverts fall prey to the soundman. A record 131 comments, bolstered by outside influences.

1 Contempt breed familiarity: despite everything this was a comfortable winner, a potted history of the one band the internet knew nothing about before appearing on these shows. Don't know how this ended up so popular, apart from one link on doyouremember it doesn't appear to have been linked from anywhere.

Of course were this a more representative look back at 1977 Contempt would have taken pride of place, alongside Joy Sarney, Danny Mirror, Brendon, David Parton, Trinidad Oil Company, Martyn Ford Orchestra, Honky, the Carvells, Page Three, the Foster Brothers, Hudson-Ford, Neil Innes, Gene Cotton, Dead End Kids, Jigsaw, The Banned, Peter Blake, the RAH Band, Berni Flint, John Miles' command of the talkbox, Danny Williams, the Steve Gibbons Band and the Mah Na Mah Na Legs & Co routine with a live feed from the living room of Sue's children, plus Diddy interviewing Michael Nesmith. Instead the ever unimaginative BBC LE department decided to honour the biggest hits of the year instead. Pschaw.

So before we start here's how it fitted into what some say was the greatest Christmas evening's telly of all time, featuring the two most watched Christmas Day light entertainment shows of all time, and the one that received the most viewers isn't the one everyone thinks it is (and wasn't as big as is commonly quoted):

8.55am Star Over Bethlehem
9.55am Playboard
10.10am Michael Bentine appeals on behalf of Wells Cathedral
10.15am Christmas Worship from All Saints Parish Church, Kingston-Upon-Thames
11.13am Weatherman
11.15am The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas animation
11.40am National Velvet
1.40pm Are You Being Served?
2.10pm Top of the Pops
3.00pm The Queen
3.10pm Billy Smart's Christmas Circus
4.10pm The Wizard Of Oz
5.50pm Basil (Brush) Through The Looking Glass
6.20pm Evening News
6.25pm Songs Of Praise
7.15pm The Generation Game
8.20pm Mike Yarwood Christmas Show
8.55pm Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show
10.00pm News
10.05pm Funny Girl
12.30am Weatherman
12.31am Closedown

The best ITV could do? The Christmas Stars On Sunday and nearly three hours of Young Winston.

Back to business, with an intro screen which features previous footage of those who we'll see over the following fifty minutes in the middle and chart slides of others along the side. This is the closest Barry Biggs, Berni Flint and, remarkably, the Sex Pistols get to the end of year spectacular. 'Part One' - well, it couldn't be comfortably edited out, I suppose - has Noel and Kid in charge, the former in the widest bank manager-style tie he could find, the latter in a purple suit, huge bow tie and ruffled shirt giving him the look of a school leaver on work experience at The Comedians. Noel hopes "the pudding isn't lying too heavy cos there's a bit of dancing to do today, I reckon". Not with most of this lineup there isn't. Maybe that's the idea.

Showaddywaddy – You Got What It Takes
Not a lot of new performances given the auspicious occasion but the 'Waddy are always available with a combination of colours to suit all occasions. They start with their backs turned, as per rock and roll showbiz tradition, but it doesn't work if they're initially being filmed from behind the stage left drumkit. Under a variety of large balloons Dave Bartram, who appears to have a large car key for a medallion, struts in allurring electric pink while nobody else at all mimes the prominent sax part. We know from last year that they like a visual gag, so the performance is cut into with shots of them at a large dining table re-enacting the last supper (or having a false Christmas dinner, one of the two) Buddy liberally pours out wine and makes merry, as you'd expect. Romeo looks unenthusiastic pulling a cracker, as you'd expect. Al James sits at the end on his own and looks utterly fed up.

Deniece Williams – Free
Tip: when being shot in artful half-darkness, don't wear a dark coloured dress. At least they've given her a proper stage this time. Lit by spotlight from the front and one in-shot overhead light, Deniece is definitely made out as the centre of attention which enhances her emotive heights of performance that by the end almost reach Minnie Riperton levels, though the only other people in the studio on that side of camera are a discreetly placed well back orchestra. Still applause at the end, obviously. They've got a pretence to keep up.

Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band – The Floral Dance
Kid comes up with a corker: "1977 certainly saw a lot of new names in the charts, none more outrageous than this." Really, Kid? In the year of punk, something you'd previously indicated you were well across, and the decade of rock excess a traditional brass band were "none more outrageous"? This is a repeat of their regular year performance but it hasn't been on BBC4 before, though with the audience waving balloons, tiny bits of material on large sticks behind them you might be forgiven for thinking it was a special party mood performance.

Emerson Lake & Palmer – Fanfare For The Common Man
Kid challenges Noel to name an act with three names, and Noel dodges the future editing bullet. "Carol Bayer Sager? Andy Fairweather-Low? Value Added Tax?" He actually did that same rule-of-three line when Bayer Sayer was on, but Christmas schedules are famed for repeats. Legs & Co time, and what better physical illustration of the concept behind the title than Musketeer doublet and hose? Maybe Flick was expecting Mike Oldfield to be picked or something. On the plus side it means plenty of knicker shots, which may be the partial point of the exercise. Lots of hat doffing work ensues around Christmas trees with Pauline both opening and on a central plinth from where she gets a solo that amounts to turning round in a circle

Leo Sayer – When I Need You
Noel seems to have a thing with Bayer Sager, specifying that she wrote this song. A repeat of his performance when it reached number one, where Leo in a bare, dark studio models a large ice hockey shirt, sticks his hands in his pockets and lets the director pick up the slack with multiplication visual effects.

Manhattan Transfer – Chanson D'Amour
Or as Kid still calls them "the Manhattan Transfer Company". He ends his intro to the same film clip as original showing on an odd upward inflection as if he's unsure about the chanson's actual properties after all this time.

Hot Chocolate – So You Win Again
Even though he doesn't deliver the punchline this link has the handiwork of Noel all over it as he asks Kid which bands he's not liked this year. "You mean apart from Hot Chocolate?" Kid replies before being bundled almost to the ground, and of course there they are just across the way. Of course Kid called this OK You Win when he first introduced it, so maybe there's truth in there. As usual Errol sings right to us while moving hesitantly to the rhythm while the rest of the band swap glances and knowing grins.

David Soul – Don’t Give Up On Us
Abba – Knowing Me Knowing You
Space – Magic Fly
Johnny Mathis – When A Child Is Born (Soleado)
Four repeated videos in a row, this portion notable only for a shot halfway through Soul of a large group of audience members who don't appear at any other stage of the programme dancing to Toppotron™ - that may be a straight repeated clip from a previous show, which is confusing given they clearly have a clean copy of the proper video to show - and before Space Noel reading out a purported card dedication: "Christmas comes but once a year and when it comes it's very exciting, but Top Of The Pops is always fun especially when done by crew 19". This is apparently so vital Noel never actually introduces the clip, which with its visual effect assault, men in helmets and synth oddness must have left family members baffled nationwide.

Stevie Wonder – Sir Duke
"Legs & Co have invited a special friend along" smiles Kid and that can only mean one thing - Floyd! Dressed as Santa! Well, if you want someone to willingly move and strut with absolute dedication and excitement while in a silly costume you may as well call for the acknowledged expert. Not that the girls are stinting, dressed as they are as trotting reindeer insomuch as they have antlers on their furry hoods, albeit bedecked in holly leaves plus little tops, microshorts, gloves and boots in matching shiny silver. Santa Floyd, who hardly ever breaks his look at the camera, has the human reindeer on a leash, which brings all manner of unsubtle allusions to the fore. Even that shrinks in the egregiousness stakes, however, compared to the fact someone's added to Stevie's precision funk with sleigh bells. It doesn't improve the mix. Eventually Floyd ostentatiously disappears down a model chimney and his flock wave him off. Patti seems to be blowing him a kiss, which adds yet another layer.

Kenny Rogers – Lucille
Noel stumbles forward mid-link. "I've got a loose heel here..." is his punchline. Christ, even the Barron Knights had done that one already by then, and Kid either feigns despair or is genuinely despairing. It's a video but not the one we've already seen, as Kenny is by an empty bar festooned with bottles and instead of leaping over and going mad chooses to sit without a drink and tell his story. When he sits down there's an audible creak. He doesn't seem to be singing live but no foley artist would be so moved, would they?

Baccara – Yes Sir I Can Boogie
Another act returning to the studio, so the director chooses to start with 25 seconds essentially of just red filtered lights before the proper spotlighting is set upon the duo. Uncomfortable shifting and a couple of rehearsed spare hand movements ensue.

Wings – Mull Of Kintyre
Kid predicts the McCartneys will be "celebrating up in Scotland". What, nothing else? It's not like they'd have a turkey, I suppose. The same performance as we last saw, which isn't from Yarwood as previously stated, instead just seeming to be a second, maybe slightly cheaper video perhaps just to show off Linda's tartan socks. Kid manages to get a lengthy outro link out in one breath before Noel cues in "probably the biggest selling Christmas record of all time", White Christmas. That's no excuse. Sadly Kid doesn't wish us "merry Christmas and merry love", just the first half, but, overlaid over a slowly circling camera shot of the studio ceiling that eventually alights on some tinsel and baubles in kaleidoscope-vision, the credits are in Star Wars scrolling type and font. Influential already.

This is quite a long post, isn't it? Let's make it a little longer but simultaneously easier, as thanks to Neil again here's the Boxing Day show, not complete as UK Gold cut out repeats (we assume) of Brotherhood Of Man, Billy Ocean and Joe Tex, featuring a handful of new performances - Boney M with Bobby Farrell still having to sing his own parts and an unwelcome intrusion to mime the news report bit, Heatwave, an Elvis montage, a rather literal Legs & Co routine for Silver Lady and, erm, Showaddywaddy's hit that was already going down the charts when 1977 started. It also starts with the same title sequence as the previous day so you can see what I meant.


THX said...

Sterling work, Mister Simon, I hope this wasn't keeping you from present wrapping. The Legs & Co routines were the highlight for me, mainly for their lunacy. Dancing to ELP?! Then the sleigh bells and furry/bondage fantasy mash-up for Stevie, made all the better for Floyd's Christmas appearance, though doesn't Santa usually have a beard rather than a just white moustache?

Anyone notice Errol's golden footwear? I couldn't work out if they were shoes or boots, but all credit to him, maybe he was showing solidarity with the Legs ladies.

You could hear Kenny walking up to the bar at the start too, which leads me to think he was singing live, he did sound kind of echoey. Which reminds me, it's a pity Johnny Mathis was stuck with such a flat, dodgy microphone.

Anyway, I'll watch the Boxing Day episode later and - what's that, Cliff? "Have a great Christmas, everybody"? Yeah, what Cliff said.

the erotic adventures of sweet daddy parsnip said...

loved the boney m - bobby trying to sing live despite never doing so on the records and the hairy cornflake doing the radio reporter bit in the middle.

Andee Bee said...

Also kudos and big love to Neil for the Boxing Day edition as well

Dory said...

Two shows in one night, BBC4 and follow up Boxing day edition online.
The first BBC4 showing in three for the Bridgehouse Rastrick Band, as the first two got hit by JS then DLT, much like Crystal Gale.

Legs & Co dancing to Sir Duke with Floyd - seems he couldn't be away from the girls for too long after the end of Ruby Flipper in 1976. Lucky Santa gets six sexy girls for Christmas, and leaves them to go down the chimney!

Kenny Rogers video for Lucille was much better than the one shown earlier in the year on the regular TOTP shows, even though no-one else appears, not even the barman. Kenny always seemed to be lonely in his songs, and nothing seems to change, but good video though.

More Wings, but this indoor video comes second place to the outdoor one shown in previous weeks. There's also a third one from The Mike Yarwood show if Simon wishes to upload it during the Xmas break, as it will be another two weeks till the January 1978 shows begin. Perhaps we can have a vote for best of three Mull of Kintyre videos. Not sure if all three were shown on TOTP though, even into January. The first two definitely by now.

Then Legs & Co on Boxing Day - The routines for Silver Lady and I feel Love were not as good as their routines first time round when these songs were number one in Aug/Oct of 1977.

Can't understand why Billy Ocean and Joe Tex were left out by UK Gold. I thought only BBC4 did editing before letting the viewers decide what they like. At least the Elvis montage was a new piece of film and kept in the show, as by now Legs & Co had their lot for 1977 I think.

Noax said...

I watched the Christmas day show tonight as there wasn't much else on - how sad is that?!

It was nice of Kid to dress as Jon Pertwee's Doctor Who I thought. He and Noel seemed pretty good as a pairing.

Showaddywaddy were good value as ever I thought, although I'm not sure about those shiny outfits.

Deniece Williams - Still not one of my 'super hit 45s' of the year or whatever it is Kid likes to say, but my, hasn't she got big hair now!

Legs & Co dancing to ELP - Hmmm..they're the dandy highwaywomen who I'm too scared to mention. Certainly engaging, in exactly the way that a prog rock group in a snow shower aren't.

Manhattan Transfer - Evidently, they NEVER sang this properly on any TV show. Disappointing.

Hot Chocolate - For the first time all year, Errol looks happy while singing this. So happy that it looks like he'd been on the sherry. Nice shoes, though from one angle they looked gold, and from another they looked silver.

David Soul - That clip is definitely lifted from one of the shows earlier on in the year. As Simon said, it is a bit mystifying that they decided to do this. However, it does mean that we (quite rightly I think) get to see Toppotron in action. Is it really nearly a year since I christened it? Bloody hell indeed.

Space - I'm glad we got to see this, as they chopped it to threads the one time we saw it earlier in the year.

Legs & Co plus Floyd - Ahh, more comedy gold. It sounds to me like the sleigh bells are actually on the girls costumes (or antlers?) which does beg the question : why did they mike them up?

Kenny Rogers - Nice of Kenny to re-enact a Christmas past that many of us have experienced - drinking, alone, depressed about losing someone. Just me then?
Nice to see his posture on the bar stool is much better than on that chair from the other video at least!

Baccara - The orchestra mangled this slightly less badly than before, and it definitely benefits from losing the near 2 minute outro, so score this one as a positive I think.

I can't face the Boxing Day show right now, that'd be madness (plus the picture of Rod isn't encouraging me to give it a go) so I'll see you all anon.

Arthur Nibble said...

Noax, re your Kenny Rogers analysis - hope you're okay. mate.

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

Part One:

I never really liked the Christmas shows, even at the time. Yes they play the songs in their entirety but it's all the ones we know too well and are sick of hearing. Simon's right they should do a highlights show with all the non-charting acts, at least I'd finally get to see John Forde.

The lack of any audience makes this show look lifeless and empty. A party show and needs a crowd.

By this point Showaddywaddy had ingratiated themselves as the be-all and end-all of party pop. So unlike any of the other acts on the show they get to film two sequences which are spliced together. It works but I bet other groups were jealous of how they were treated.

I liked this Denice Williams performance, it's a shame it came too late to do her any good. Leo Sayer is pretty dull by comparison.

Hot Chocolate were the highlight for me. I loved Errol's silver boots and the fact that he loosened up and laughed along with the rest of the band by the end of the song.

Great to see Wei Wei Wong in the Space video again. I bet the band were as ugly as sin under those space helmets. It's a shame because the costumes meant they were written off as a one hit novelty act.

From the clips in the opening titles I had hoped that we were finally going to see footage of Stevie Wonder performing Sir Duke but no we had Legs and uncredited Floyd playing dressing up games - did Stevie ever do any performances to promote the songs from Song In The Key Of Life?

I loved the BBC's crude attempt to do Star Wars style crawling end titles. Doesn't really work while we're listening to White Christmas from 1942.

NB: The David Soul video is from the 3.2.77 show which is the one that kicked off with Thin Lizzy on The Toppotron followed by Gary Glitter. And they made use of the Toppotron for Mr Soul as well. I recognise at least one of those crowd dancers from several previous shows.

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

Part two:

This show wasn't much better but at least there was a crowd this time, a lot of them wearing party hats. But with only three acts in the studio what was the point?

DLT in a chunky Starsky and Hutch cardigan and Tone in a polyester shirt sporting a badge which I can't decipher.

Ma Baker, I see the TOTP orchestra are using the same wooden block they dubbed onto Sir Duke yesterday to suggest reindeer hooves. Bobby seems to be making absolutely no attempt to sing in tune or with any enthusiasm. Lucky for him that he was such a good dancer.

Great to finally see Heatwave in the studio, but the singers look like they should working for McDonalds in those brown nylon overalls.

Silver Lady and what do we get? Six silver ladies dancing. Great work Flick.

I skipped past that montage of Eva Peron photos, I really can't watch that any more.

Why is Tony wearing a raincoat, oh to hide the harness that will allow him to 'float' as an intro to The Floaters. Who thought up these terrible puns and routines?

Although Showaddywaddy were number one in 1976 with Under The Moon Of Love it was number two for two weeks at the start of 197 so I guess that's why it's included following the rules. They did a similar thing with Laurel and Hardy on the 1976 Christmas show. I see the band are doing the old trick of swapping places or at least one of the vocalists has swapped with one of the drummers.

Noax said...

Thanks for the concern Arthur, those days are long over for me happily, though I did once go a bit '70s Smashie from End of an Era' if you know what I mean. ("TESSAAAAAAAAAAAA!")

Simon said...

Well done to the Guardian's Alex Needham, who today claims "BBC4 head Richard Klein's decision to scrap the reruns of Top of the Pops because they were presented by the likes of Dave Lee Travis looked more Stalinist than sensitive." Um...

Dory said...

What, are they really going to be scrapped, and when?

Simon said...

No they aren't. Even the story he's linked to as "proof" is the one from last month where Klein said they hadn't decided yet, so not even his direct primary source backs him up.

Dory said...

Phew, that is a relief, as my Thursday nights would not be the same without these re-runs.

When will BBC4 allow back in the DLT shows, as there's more shows of him in 1978 than JS, and also we have now caught up after the backlog, thanks to dropping these two from the BBC4 re-run shows?

Also, when is the first of the 1978 ones being shown, I think Peter Powell in the first show of the year, followed by DLT in the second one?

Steve Williams said...

For those intrigued by Simon's comment, it was of course Mike Yarwood that got 21.4 million viewers to 21.3 million for Eric and Ern, but you can imagine 100,000 kids being sent to bed at nine o'clock. The mythical 28 million who were supposed to have watched Eric and Ern came from BBC research, these being the days when there was no official comprehensive ratings source. Not that it stopped the TV Times parroting it when they were on ITV next Christmas.

In fact it was very much the end of an era as, as well as Morecambe and Wise's last BBC show, it was also Brucie's last proper Gen Game (although Bruce's Choice was on New Year's Eve, billed in the Radio Times with the tantalising billing "Highlights from 1977 including The Brother Lees") and also Billy Smart's Circus last outing on the Beeb before they too defected to ITV. The Wizard Of Oz wasn't actually a premiere, it had first been shown in the same exact slot in 1975.

As for Pops, in the eighties the Christmas show always seemed the most glamorous show of the year whereas in the seventies it seemed the most threadbare. The lack of an audience wasn't unusual, in fact there isn't one on the Christmas show again until 1981. I suppose it made it easier to record stuff throughout the year but then they left in that Toppotron shot.

I liked Noel and Kid together but the rest of it was all a bit dull, so instead I'll talk about my three favourite episodes of Pops this year, which were...

3) 12th May, which looks a bit grim now with Percy involved but was quite the most bizarre episode of the year with the Trinidad Oil Company, Billy Paul and Dr Feelgood.

2) 27th October, if only for the, er, powerful Black Betty routine but also Belfast and Tom Robinson and some ace Kid links ("Time for another wild sound, but the scene is a little gentler on the eye!")

3) 25th August, obviously, for The Boomtown Rats (who may not be punk but are terrifically exciting), The Adverts and Rods, plus the majestic Magic Fly.

Worst episodes were the dull Diddy show from January 13th that plodded along (which of course viewers in 1978 had to sit through again when the episode of 12th January 1978 was cancelled due to a strike) and, worst of all, the ballad-heavy Noel-fronted episode of 24th February with Barbara Dickson, Racing Cars and Mary McGregor, especially in its BBC4 edit which chopped out everything that had a BPM of more than about three. Best Legs routine was Black Betty by miles, followed by The Shuffle with Sue and Lulu because it was Sue and Lulu who are my two favourites.

Darren said...

Just watched both of the Christmas shows. I noticed that the end credits of Part 1 said "BBC MCMLXXVIII", which if my roman numerals are up to scratch, means 1978. It seems they were a week ahead of themselves!

Anonymous said...

Darren : I also noticed that. I remember the BBC jumping the gun frequently in the last week of 1980, when many BBC programmes had MCMLXXXI (1981) at the end of the credits.

70's Boy said...

Odd how there was no audience for the Christmas Day show, but there was one for Boxing Day. I have to agree with others, that shows are certainly better with an audience present.

Lovely to get an additional performance of 'Free', being one of my favourites of the year. And the return of Floyd! With his six lovely reindeer, it was a good, fun routine.

A highlight, of sorts, is another attempt at a live vocal from Bobby from Boney M: we've known since January that he didn't get he job for his singing.