Thursday, 20 December 2012

TOTP 8/12/77 (tx 20/12/12): Christmas double issue

Tony Blackburn in his casual golfing top welcomes us, Donna Summer's Love's Unkind takes us down the countdown, and we all get to admire the inch-perfect skill of the designer.

Generation X – Wild Youth
A close-up of a guitar? With Tony around are we in A Bit Of That Sort Of Rock mode? We're certainly in the bleach'n'sneer department for Gen X's second appearance but the first we've seen on telly, though Billy, gloves to match his leather jacket, really has to try and gain the gaps where he can do that lip snarl thing. The guitarist meanwhile has the drooping blonde fringe that the Police would sport for a bit and Birdland would later take up. (Hands up who thought Birdland would get a relevant reference on here?) Tony James on bass manages to break his strap and has to perform some running repairs in the break. By the end Billy's just shouting and James has abandoned the instrument almost completely, lifting it high on the punch-along beat.

Hot Chocolate – Put Your Love In Me
"Here's a group that never made a bad record" Tony avers. It's another triumph of the directorial art, using both fish-eye lens and fading shots of the band members in turn up over a long shot of the stage before Errol gets to do his straight-faced, big-collared thing in closeup. Then on the way towards the end the effects budget gets blown for another week as everything briefly goes into flickering psychedelic colours, violins cascade, Errol hits a falsetto note or two and then things just continue as if nothing untoward had happened.

Chic – Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah)
Or as Tony calls them, Chick. No Francophile he. Nile Rodgers tells a story of coming to TOTP in 1975, we think with Labelle, and having only known genre divided radio up til then was surprised to find following them on stage at the recording of what he'd been told was this big modern pop show was Mike Reid's telling of The Ugly Duckling. He's not here, it's Legs & Co in their showgirl outfits, shiny boob tubes/small tops and pants each with a trailing set of feather boas like psychedelic Pepe le Pews and a matching armband. Dancing under a set of geometric shapes hung from the ceiling that wobble occasionally just as the girls move under them there's very much a flapper dancing vibe going on, though you can't really get away with much else dressed like that.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band – California
"I was in California a little bit earlier on this year, and to sing all about that here's Manfred Mann's Earth Band". Either the song actually is about Tony's holiday, which seems unlikely if not overdoing it, or it's not the greatest holiday destination tip I've ever heard. The guitarist, looking like a lost member of 10cc, opens by strumming his guitar unconvincingly before his singing colleague, who with beard and woolly hat seems to be a prototype for Badly Drawn Boy, except in a barely forgiveable rainbow jumper that even a Playaway host would pass by, exudes. It sounds like American country rock, as so many tried to back then. It turns out, though, that it's the drummer we should have been watching, as not only is he wearing a massive headband despite being bald but he bursts out laughing at the guitar solo, surely something he'd be used to by now.

Bonnie Tyler – It’s A Heartache
The show seems to have been edited by pinning the 3.5" videotape to a wall and firing a staple gun at it. Bonnie's back, a vision in a country singer white suit. No room for band theatrics this week with a tiny stage, but she sounds like she's getting used to her new voice. Tony makes sure to credit her as being from "beautiful Wales".

The Bee Gees – How Deep Is Your Love
"Number five in our sensational chart", they're under the lights again. This time with audio wobbles!

Graham Parker & The Rumour – New York Shuffle
The smallest man in pub rock returns! Still in shades, as expected, the Rumour run through some rhythm and blues (as opposed to rhythm and rock) enlivened when Parker joins in the guitar solo by mouthing it right at camera with a circular mouth as if he were a particularly rock-conversant goldfish, all while pumping his right arm to indicate some form of excitement. We lose Bing Crosby's White Christmas here presumably for film rights reasons, though it used to be a staple of TOTP2's festive show. Still, we jump straight on to a song that's just as legendary...

The Banned – Little Girl
Yeeeees. In all senses of the drawn-out sucking of air through teeth. The Banned were members of prog rockers Gryphon chancing it for the quick buck - their past members list on Wiki includes such delights as Rick Mansworth, Ben Dover, Tommy Steal and naturally John Thomas - though with their clipped, reedy riffs, Mockney singing drummer, skinny ties and cheap shades they actually seem to have accidentally invented new wave. Halfway through drummer Paul Sordid - that doesn't even work! - in his cream scarf runs to the proper mike and with the beat merrily carrying on regardless he goes through the motions of pointing and glaring through the shades. The audience look appropriately bemused. "I love that one" Tony lies.

Wings – Mull Of Kintyre
Tony slings his arm around a woman who seems less than enthused about the prospect and introduces a clip we're just going to have to get used to. The gift that keeps on giving, Belfast sees us out.


the erotic adventures of sweet daddy parsnip said...

the lead singer of the banned looked like jonathan king and also looked far too pleased with himself.
as for chic - managed to avoid hearing it all my life and then it was on the radio a few weeks back while in a car with friends.
the 'YOWZA YOWZA YOWZA!' bit had us falling about with laughter - it's just so peculiar.

Mark F said...

"Well, there it is", says Tony doubtfully after Generation X have finished. It's fair to say he didn't like punk, not even this tame example of it.

Simon said...

Well, he claimed to like The Banned. Tony, in fairness, seems to like very little, not including practically any of his colleagues.

Simon said...

By the way, show two will be up from midday tomorrow.

Darren said...

Is there any chance that we didn't get Bing Crosby (and Dooley Wilson from the later episode) because of time, rather than rights? I note that my TV guide listed both artists as appearing on tonight's shows. But the fact that the late showings are also 30 minutes each probably means you're right.


THX said...

Tony's glance at the camera as Billy Idol finished with a flourish practically screamed "great reservations". Birdland! I used to think Hollow Heart was quite good, then they followed it up with droning boredom and I had second thoughts.

Anyway, back in 1977, do you think if Hot Chocolate had a female singer they would have been allowed to play that on TV?

Tony's Chic faux pas was up there with Durren Durren, and him supposed to be a fan of disco, too. Where's the BBC Pronunciation Unit when we needed them? As for the dancing, you'd never have known it was the dead of winter from the costumes, and Graham Parker was fairly sheened in perspiration, so can we assume the studio was adequately heated?

Manfred seemed to have missed off the word "Hotel" from his song, there. I thought it was Eddie the Eagle on vocals/drums for The Banned, amazing how he managed to play his instrument while standing a few feet away, how did he do it?

Do courtrooms still use the Mull of Kintyre as an example of what constitutes a valid obscenity case in pornography? Not the song, the map of the region.

Simon Jenkins said...

The Banned song is, of course, a cover of the mid-60s US hit by Syndicate of Sound. And an anaemic one at that.

Dory said...

Legs & Co were superb dancing to the Chic all time classic. it still sounds so good present day when played in the clubs. My favourite Legs & Co routines always seemed to be the disco sound of the late seventies.
There were quite a few on the 1976 TOTP shows where they danced with similar shiny coloured outfits, but the dance-floor routines were outstanding.

Shame we didn't get the Bing Crosby White Christmas video on both the early evening and late night showings, and that it was scissored out of the show. What is the full reason/explanation? Does anyone know?

Once again, the Wings number one was the highlight of the show for me. The more I hear it, the more enjoyable it is. I'm just pleased it's going to be on our screens for weeks to come and also into January 1978. Bring on the shows!

70's Boy said...

As Simon commented, I was expecting Manfred Mann's EB to be performing a song specifically about Tony's holiday, but sadly it wasn't, it was just turgid. I was expecting not to like 'Wild Youth' by Generation X, but actually did - but neither that nor MMEB's 'California' were hits, so clearly the 1977 public didn't think much of either.

Shame we lost Bing's 'White Christmas' (and Dooley Wilson's 'As Time Goes By' from the following show) - does the BBC not have the rights to show any old films now?!

A good routine from the Legs - and the Banned's singer was trying to perfect the art of chewing gum and singing simultaneously, just managing it. And Graham Parker certainly gave it his all.

Also, I counted that seven of the performances were new and in the studio, so it must have been busy at TOTP that day.

darnall 42 said...

Dooley wilson ,as time goes by

Angelo Gravity said...

Loved Tony rolling his eyes at the end of the Generation X song, and then immediately introducing Hot Chocolate with the double-edged words 'now here's one band who never makes a bad record....'


Stephen said...

Already Sick of Mulligan's Tyre

Mark F said...

Not only Durren Durren, but also my favourite Tony Blackburn moment from his Top 40 years: "And it's a great week for the 2-Tone bands, here are the Ruts with a new entry..." - evidently misled by their song being called Staring at the Rude Boys.

Arthur Nibble said...

Haven't seen the shows yet, but this particular edition had four non-chart singles, of which three became turkeys (ho ho - seasonal) as Graham Parker's song wasn't a hit either. The Banned's effort made 36 and might have gone higher but, apparently, not enough copies were manufactured to meet the demand. It's been a right old few months for cheap novelty cash-ins on this show, hasn't it? Almost makes you wish for Joy Sarney again...but not quite.

Steve Williams said...

Donna Summer over the charts two weeks running! Tony's face after Gen X was ace, although Sir Billiam Idol has always seemed to me to be Britain's least threatening punk, I dunno if it's the blonde hair that does it. When he does King Rocker he resembles a tiny little lamb, and sings like one too.

There seems to have been a rather drastic change of personnel in the Earth Band since we last saw them, we've lost my favourite member in the Noel lookalike who always seemed a bit embarrassed to be there. I liked how Tony said "I went to California earlier on... er, this year", in case we thought he'd just nipped over this morning.

I have no idea why we lost White Christmas, as you say TOTP2 used to show it every year, which always annoyed me as it wasn't a pop record. Doesn't seem like it's for timing reasons either as the second show ended way short.

Stephen said...

Right Here I go with full thoughts...

Gen X - Tune good but have always thought Idol a prat, Good bass waving.

Hot choc 'Have never made a bad record' Erm...This Donna Summer wannabe...

Chick - SUE IN A BIKINI!, Yousa!.

MMEB - The audience seemed to enjoy this lightweight track with a cracking solo (Chris Slade Loved it.

Bonnie - Wales' top rod Stewart impersonator...Always want to sing it's an Arseache...

Bee Gees - No need to comment on the video again.

GP+TR - Should have been better, somehow felt forced

The Banned - The drummer looks like he should be in the Rubettes...the audience dance to a different tune (hopefully better than this poor tune)

How much does that girl not want to be there.

Wings - As I said earlier Already sick of Mulligan's tyre, still nearly hummed along tho'.

Playout - They really liked Belfast didn't they, no wonder it's a corking track.

Back later for show 2...

Steve Williams said...

As for Chick, by the way, on the Blue Peter film where they introduce Simon Groom by following him as a club DJ, he too pronounces it as "Chick", so maybe it was an anglicised pronunction like Nessles.

Chris Hughes said...

Earlier on this year, I listened to a lot of Radio 1 chart countdowns from the 1970s, and both Tom Browne and Simon Bates consistently referred to Chic as 'Chick'. At first, I thought it was a DJ affectation (like Noel's 'Legs and Company') but seemingly they just thought that was how you pronounced it.

Mark F said...

Another TB memory...
"And at 36, a record by a group who choose to call themselves the Dead Kennedys."

daf said...

Were nearing the end of the year, and so far, that 1977 documentary's prediction of 'punk changing the landscape of Top of the Pops' seems to be all so much hot air. No doubt they'll use the same template for the 1978 documentary - "At the start of 1977 it was all Mull of Kintyre, The Dooleys and Bing Crosby, but by the end it was all . . . blah blah blah)

The closest we get here is one punk band, and one pub rock band - if anything, it's disco that's making an impact.

Like a minipops version of Elvis Costello.

THE BANNED – Little Girl
If this was meant to jump on the punk bandwagon, they missed their footing by miles. I thought they sounded like the reediest weediest sixtes tribute band. plus Les McQueen gurning on Drums didn't help.

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

The first of two Donna Summer chart rundown tunes in a row. Why were her two record companies releasing singles simultaneously? And I see they're using the Winter Melody photo of her from January 77.

Tone's back from his time off with his 'sore throat'. I wonder if Ed Stewart was on standby again just in case Tone wobbled. Old Tone loves his soul sounds so he makes a point of back announcing Donna Summer as well he should.

Generation X look quite harmless now, some great miming and lip curling.

I thought this was a better performance by Hot Chocolate this time, we don't get to see so many close ups of the keyboard players ET-style fingers but we do get the drummer shirtless with a curly perm and Errol in black satin trousers and a choker necklace.

Chick. Tone really should have said "here are 6 chicks", Noel would have done. I love the fact that this song name checks The Latin Hustle which was a hit as long ago as March 1976 (sadly we just missed the chart-off between Eddie Drennon and The M&O Band on Arthur's beloved Creole label).

The two lads dancing at the front of Manfred Mann look like they're dancing to a different tune or should I say something else that has a tune. The headband-sporting drummer looks like a Monty Python character but I can't remember which one.

Bonnie Tyler again. I love seeing the different performances of a particular song and how the various band members chose to dress up or in this case down. Here the guitarist is still in brown, albeit a formal jacket. The drummer has one of those tee shirts with a tuxedo and bow tie printed on it that were all the rage (in 1975).

The Bee Gees again with their advert for coloured spotlights.

Little Graham Parker, so small he must have fallen out of someone's Christmas cracker. Now that Elvis Costello's nicked his nerd look he's opted for larger aviator shades (or they might be Action Man's riot shields).

We're going to have to dream White Christmas because they ain't gonna show it.

The Banned not to be confused with Ian Beale and Sharon Watt's Banned from EastEenders. I didn't realise at the time that this a was a cover of a song by the Syndicate Of Sound until I saw it on a pysch compilation. I love the way the singer keeps shouting "Oi" all the time and his habit of chewing gum in time with the music. He reminds me of Phil Pope who was one of The Hee Bee Gee Bees and played Tony Angelino the singer with the speech impediment in an episode of Only Fools and Horses.

Noax said...

Donna Summer's song is ace, and fits the rundown quite well I think.

Generation X - Erm...well, I quite like Billy Idol actually, if only for taking the piss out of himself in The Wedding Singer, but this song isn't very good.

Hot Chocolate - Less scary than last time, and more interestingly directed. I've decided, as I thought I might last time, that I like this tune.

Chic - Legs & Co in their underwear. That'll do I suppose. Hearing this always makes me think of one of the newsreaders at the radio station I was working at - he didn't realise his mic was on and for no apparent reason (as the song wasn't playing) said 'Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah' on air!

Nice to see some giant drogna currency from The Adventure Game hanging from the ceiling.

MMEB - Released this at the wrong time of year, didn't they? I think that Rod, Jane or Freddy provided the jumper.

Graham Parker - Awful.

The Banned - Somehow the best out of the 3 punkish things on the show, I reckon. It probably wouldn't have seemed that way if they hadn't (badly) edited out Bing though.

Not the best of shows this one.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or is the Bee Gees clip being played just slightly too fast?

A bit of that sort of Arthur said...

The stomping chorus part of "Wild Youth" sounds like it was nicked from Showaddywaddy'a "Hey Rock And Roll". Love Tony's "Dear God" face before back-announcing Gen X.

Funny how Errol Brown was usually very serious on the show, yet he's grinning like a Cheshire cat in the rundown shot.

Legs & Co in bikinis? Yowsah yowsah yowsah indeed! Especially Rosie.

Good fete or pub quiz question for the future - how many times was the word "California" sung in that drivel? Nearest answer wins a goldfish.

Unless it was a copy of the single's vocal line, Bonnie's voice had recovered quite nicely from the previous sandpaper rendition. The drummer looks like a hybrid of Tall Rubette and Jackie Stewart.

"The hits go on" says Tony as he introduces a total flop, only enlivened by the keyboard player ditching his instrument and grabbing the mic Parker style near the end.

Loved the rundown shot of Bing, but it wasn't as good as the Ziggy Stardust makeover Bing was given in one of those classic spoof rundowns.

Tony cocks up another band name by missing the "The" from The Banned. Awful weedy cash-in pop with a band member laying three parts - drummer, vocalist and prat.

80sBlokeInThe70s said...

Generation X, Manfred Mann and Graham Parker - 3 complete flops on one edition that must be a record!
Generation X are about as threatening as when one of those boybands you used to get on 70s children's telly (Flintlock etc)did their "rock" number.

Hot Chocolate - What an amazing production. Incidentally the very rare not commercially released 12 inch version of this is no longer than the 7inch obviously just better quality sound.Also RAK records were still having 7 inch only releases for acts which were obviously suited for extended versions (dancey such as Hot Chocolate or Kandidate and New Pop Kim Wilde)as late as the end of 1982 when just about everyone else releasing those genres were sticking out 12"ers as a matter of course.

Chic - my favourite Chic record - the 'Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah' bit is from the film "They Shoot Horses Don't They" - does anyone know if the MC's really used this at 1930s dance marathons or did they make it up for the film.

Manfred Mann - that hippy singer looks like he should be playing a free festival with Gong or Hawkwind in about 1971 rather than TOTP in 1977.

Bee Gees - must have the magic ingredient as I never tire of hearing it despite probably hearing it at least a few thousand times.

The Banned - like quite a few songs on these TOTP's I've never knowingly heard this before although I must have as I watched it every week. I suppose the intricate buzzing guitar sound is quite different.Vague similarities to the intricate medieval sound of Gryphon that someone said they were connected with (I know that because my ex-missus with a hippy past used to have one of their albums!).

Time to fast forward to .....Boney M which I'm continually surprised about how good this is although not quite as good as their TOTP performance (don't think I've ever said that before about someone's TOTP performance!).

Cheer up girl at least that's not Jimmy with his arm draped round you...

Arthur Nibble said...

Can't remember the edition, but I'm sure we've had a bumper length one with 14 or 145 tracks which had three or maybe four total flops. Simon?

I belive the "Yowsah" chant was a staple at dance marathons. A sort of gee-up to the contestants to keep going.

Arthur Nibble gets it wrong again said...

That was meant to say 15 tracks, not 145. Simon would have had a breakdown analysing the longer length edition!

Bamaboogiewoogie said...

@80sBlokeInThe70s - re Chic, Wiki says The "yowsah, yowsah, yowsah" originated with the American jazz violinist and radio personality Ben Bernie, who popularized it in the 1920s. The phrase was revived in 1969 by They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

wilberforce said...

the drummer in the banned looks and sounds like the unfunny fourth one in "the young ones" - when he deserted his drumkit shouting "here we go" or something i was expecting (hoping) for a proper song with proper singing, but unfortunately it was just more of the same...

Noax said...

Interestingly, no 'White Christmas' in TOTP2. They nearly always used to finish with that but I don't think they've included it for a few years now.

So perhaps they don't have the rights any more, for whatever reason.

Simon said...

Someone on Twitter raised the theory that they might not be able to clear the film clips for iPlayer/VOD.

THX said...

Was Bonnie Tyler really brunette in her countdown pic and blonde in the show, or was it a trick of the light?

Steve Williams said...

I don't think we've ever had a show with four flops which means this one will tie with the majestic Glamourpuss edition from last July, with Sunfighter, Bobby Goldsboro and the 'puss themselves. Although that one will pip it on the fact two of those three bands never had a hit at all, while at least here all three either had or will have some chart "action".

Surprisingly that massive show in September - which I think was Tony's last appearance - only had two flops in Hudson-Ford (though I still quite like that one) and Elvis Costello.