Thursday, 22 November 2012

Top of the Pops: 3rd November 1977.

The Carpenters, 1972
The Carpenters in 1972.
White House photo by Knudsen, Robert L.
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A new face joins us for this week's show. It's Perky Peter Powell, surely the world's cheeriest living human. Will he be able to maintain that cheeriness through half an hour of 1977's finest music, or will he be left a bitter twisted husk of a man vowing never again to work in British television?

Only the next thirty minutes can tell us.

But it's ELO over the rundown, doing Turn To Stone. And that can only mean one thing; we're off to a flying start and Peter's sanity won't be crushed just yet.

Nor will it be even now because we're suddenly served up the Jam with The Modern World.

To be honest, it's not one of my favourite Jam tracks, being blessed with a tune I can never in any way, shape or form remember but it's still the Jam; and bad Jam is better than no Jam.

As if to prove it, Peter's back, with sanity resolutely uncrushed.

I'm not totally sure I can say the same for the Carpenters, who join us for their legendary cover of Klaatu's Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft.

You can tell the Star Wars/CE3K sci-fi boom's starting to hit big. And was that Meco I spotted in the chart rundown?

But the special effects budget for this video must have been epic. It's a wonder Steven Spielberg wasn't straight on the phone to them to get them to redo the SFX on Close Encounters Of The Third Kind for him.

Well, aliens might be coming for us but, more importantly, so is Christmas. And that can only mean a visit from the band who only seemed to exist when there was tinsel in the air. It's the Barron Knights with Live In Trouble.

They're doing the impossible and sending up the Floaters who themselves went so far into the realms of self-parody that they came right back out the other end.

I'm not sure I'm enjoying any of this but the the Barron Knights clearly are.

Someone I'm bound to enjoy more are Queen giving us We Are The Champions

I've always remembered the first time I saw this video on Top of the Pops - mostly because Freddie's half black and half white in it, like that bloke in Star Trek.

Unlike that bloke in Star Trek, Freddie doesn't go mad and start trying to strangle himself.

But who's that on bass? Is it the bloke who normally played bass for Queen? As you can see, I have an encyclopedic knowledge of the band and its membership.

Sadly, an encyclopedic knowledge of Dorothy Moore is something I gravely lack. And so, as Legs and Co come on, dancing to her track I Believe You, I must confess it's a song I'm not familiar with. Its style is, however, highly familiar.

As for Legs, they seem to be wearing their shower curtains - and not in a good way.

But, hooray! It's Status Quo and Rocking All Over the World.

It's easy to knock the Quo - and just calling them that has suddenly made me sound like Les Battersby - but no one does empty-headed knees-up music quite like them.

As for Peter, he's getting bouncier as it goes along. I actually think he's filled with helium and only held tethered to the ground by a piece of string.

And now! At last! It's David Bowie! After all these months, they've finally let him on the show!

Then again, maybe they shouldn't have. He's doing Heroes and, to be honest, this is rubbish compared to the record.

The wall of sound seems to have been replaced by a desultory attempt at light hedging that's been hit by a half-hearted stab at topiary

Is this the Top of the Pops band playing? I can't help feel they lack a certain bite.

After a complacent sounding start, David's starting to give it some but, without an equal level of some-givingness by his band, I fear it's all doomed to do a classic record poor justice.

These days, I actually can't see David Bowie without seeing Ricky Gervais in my head. That can't be a good thing, can it?

But what's on next is definitely a good thing.

It's Showaddywaddy, with Dancing Party.

It's a radical departure from their usual sound.

Well, OK, it's not. It's exactly the same song they always have hits with.

But they're getting stuck in - the extraneous members, especially, demonstrating how to turn extraneity into a crowd-pleasing asset.

Dare one suggest they're giving David Bowie a lesson in how to do the show?

A band who don't need any lessons in how to do the show - mostly because they never bother appearing on it - are ABBA, and they're Number 1 with Name of the Game.

But, meanwhile, is that Smokie I hear on the play-out?

I do believe it is.

To be honest, whatever mood I come to this show in, I often find myself having to bury rather than praise it.

But, this time, resistance is futile. Tonight's edition was packed with great songs - and at least one great performance from the band they don't call The Wadd. And, if the Jam and David Bowie weren't at their very best, at least they were there.

I can only credit Peter Powell who must have somehow worked his smiley, bouncy magic to lift the show to undreamed of heights. Well done, Peter. Long may you reign over us. Now please don't get arrested before your next appearance.


Dougie said...

"See the little fat man...everybody hates him...Fatty takes his own life."
I really liked Extras. And I met Ashley Jensen- before she was famous- at the Glasgow Arts Centre in the early 90s.

Steve W. said...

I loved Extras - especially the final episode. I just wish it didn't mean I now inextricably link David Bowie with Ricky Gervais.

Anonymous said...

Best one yet, better to come - unless "BBC to axe Top of the Pops repeats" according to the NME yesterday, start the petition now.

wilberforce said...

steve, at the risk of sounding like a sad trekkie (or trekker, which is is apparently what the real hardcore call themselves - i consider myself neither despite my substantial knowledge of and love for the show) there were actually two guys with half-black, half-white faces in a star trek episode (one of which was played by the guy who was the riddler in batman) - they were rescued from their separate spaceships by the enterprise, and then proceeded to keep fighting each other despite captain kirk's best efforts to stop them. finally a bemused kirk asks "why do you you fight? after all you're both the same", to which one replies "no captain, if you look more closely, you'll see my face is white on the left, and his is white on the right (or it may have been the other way around - as i said i'm no trekkie)" - it might seem a bit corny, but i still thought it was a brilliant allegory of how people sometimes just can't get on with each other despite seemingly having much in common...

Steve W. said...

Ah. I was remembering it as them having both been the same man who'd been split in two. It just goes to show how long it is since I've seen it.

wilberforce said...

the reason i can describe the saga of the aliens with half-black and half-white faces with such clarity is because i recently saw it on dvd whilst finally getting to watch every episode of the original series ever made, a few of which i don't ever remember seeing when they would be sporadically shown on the telly - unlike this one, which i have seen several times previously so would have been aware of your erroneous recollection regardless...


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