Thursday, 15 March 2012

Top of the Pops: 10th March, 1977.

Hollywood and Avengers star Scarlett Johansson in a black dress and pearls, flaunting her mammoth cleavage
I couldn't find a free-to-use image of any of tonight's
acts, so here's a photo of Scarlett Johansson instead
By Tony Shek (Scarlett Johansson_004)
[CC-BY-2.0 (]
via Wikimedia Commons
Once more must I plummet through time, into a world so very like my own and yet so very unlike my own. What all-time classics will BBC4 have cut out of this week's show to make room for the likes of Mary MacGregor?

If anyone can tell us, David “Kid” Jensen can, for it is he who's presenting.

I'm still refusing to watch the chart countdown at the beginning, in case it ruins all the surprises for me.

And this is a surprise. They've started with Graham Parker. Graham was one of my favourite artists of the late 1970s. How could you not love a man who gave us lines like, “I've got mercury poisoning. It's fatal and it don't get better”?

Having said that, such an angry man seems not totally suited to a song like Hold Back the Night.

I never realised he was so short.

Or is everyone else in his band unbelievably tall? It's like he's being filmed in forced perspective like they were in Land of the Giants. Any second now I expect a giant domestic cat to get on stage and try to swat him with its paw, forcing him to take refuge in a hole in the skirting board.

To be honest he's acting like a bit of a pranny.

“What a good week it's been for Liverpool,” says Kid. Argh! No! Please don't let this mean it's going to be Liverpool Express again!

It's not. It's the Real Thing.

I suppose it's better than Liverpool Express but it's still not the most thrilling of songs. For some reason, one of them's got his arm in his dungarees, like Napoleon on Dress-Down Thursday.

The Brotherhood of Man are on, doing Oh Boy. They haven't quite gone into full-on ABBA mode at this stage of their career but they're heading that way.

It's not what you could call a rivetingly choreographed routine.

Now Kid meets some Norwegians.

And we meet Smokie.

I do have a strange fondness for Smokie. They were hardly cutting-edge, but listening to a Smokie song is like sinking into a comfy sofa; which is appropriate as the bassist's hair looks like an exploding settee.

Speaking of looking like an exploding settee, Barbara Dickson's back. It's Kid Jensen's favourite song from Evita and I agree with him even though I've only ever heard three songs from Evita and two of them have the same tune as each other.

Oh my god, it's that terrible Rubettes record again. Has there been some decree that it has to be on every single week? How can Kid possibly think it's going to be a Number 1?

Big hats totally jettisoned now. The fools! Don't they know that ditching extravagant head-wear's the sure-fire route to obscurity? I take the view that the only reason I never made it onto TOTP was my insane decision to not wear a neon bucket on my head at all opportunities. With such a policy, how could I ever have hoped to stalk the stage Nik Kershaw once made his own?

Like a pitiful dog with no will left to go on, the Rubettes are put out of their misery and cut short to make way for ELO and Rockaria. I'm starting to feel like I'm watching a repeat of last week's show.

Still, I don't care. ELO'll put me in better spirits.

Supposedly the woman warbling on this is the same one who sang, “This is the age of the train,” in those Jimmy Savile adverts. Everything on TOTP always comes back to Jimmy in the end.

Dangerous jumping around from the cellist. Just remember that thing's got a big spike on the end of it, mate.

Legs and Co dancing to Mary MacGregor. Another atypically non-literal interpretation. That's a shame. I'd have loved to see Flick Colby trying to literally interpret the phrase, “Torn between two lovers.” Poor Cherry'd never walk right again.

Now it's someone called Brendan. I've never heard of either this person or this song before in my life. And there was me thinking I had an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things late-1970s' pop.

Brendan's a major sex god.

At least he seems to think so.

I'm not sure his band do. They appear to be trying to keep as much of the stage between themselves and him as possible.

He seems quite annoying.

And seems to have a high opinion of his own buttocks, judging by his determination to make sure everyone gets a good view of them.

Leo Sayer's not Number 1 any more. It's Manhattan Transfer; rat a tat a tat.


I don't expect a woman in Manhattan Transfer to have nipples. It'd be like finding out Penelope Keith has them. Nipples are reserved for Felicity Kendal, not the likes of Mrs Manhattan.

I wonder if there're still groups like Manhattan Transfer out there these days. I like to think there are. I mean, I wouldn't want to actually hear them, but it'd be reassuring to know there are. And also that there're acts like Hinge and Bracket still out there.

It's all over and they're playing-out with Elton John and Crazy Water. Was this a single? Was it a hit? It's not one of his best known songs. In fact I don't know it at all.

So, I learned a lot from this week's episode of Top of the Pops. I learned there was a man called Brendan who I'd never heard of before and that Elton John had a single out in 1977 that I'd never heard of before.

Still no sign of Ken Morse. With the most iconic figure in TOTP's history still not having put in an appearance, I'm starting to feel like it's a conspiracy.


cerebus660 said...

I missed this episode the other night ( I was probably doing something interesting like sleeping )and had planned to watch it on catch-up TV. Maybe I won't bother now...

The last episode of TOTP '77 I watched had a couple of good disco acts, some totally forgettable novelty pop drivel, bloody ELO ( sorry, but I can't stand them )and the awesome Sound And Vision by Mr. David Bowie... played out over the end credits :-(
The programme makers really weren't thinking of how these episodes would be viewed by top 21st century cultural pundits. Or even bloggers...

Steve W. said...

It can't be denied that this week's show felt very very tired. Still, if not for it I'd never have known of the existence of Brendon. So even a poor episode has some value.

wilberforce said...

i don't remember brendon either, or this week's real thing and brotherhood of man tracks... or the brothers who were on a few weeks ago... or mud's "shake it down" at the time of release, although i discovered it a couple of years or so back via the internet...

in mud's case i suspect i had lost interest in them after they fell from chinnichap/glam grace, but the others that were all top 20 hits? maybe i just didn't find them of interest at the time, but also maybe i didn't hate them either like so many other horrors from that era that burnt their way into my brain...?

like yourself i thought i knew everything about the pop charts at that time, so obviously that's not the case... either that or senility is beginning to creep in!


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