Thursday, 28 June 2012

Top of the Pops: 9th June, 1977.

Angelina Jolie
The usual problems finding a decent free-use image of
any of tonight's acts, so here's Tomb Raider and
Alexander sex-bomb Angelia Jolie.
Almost uniquely, Angelina Jolie has no valid links to
Top of the Pops.
By Angelina-Jolie. jpg:
- Bitte bei Bildverwendung auch Link setzen derivative
work: Born Slippy (Angelina-Jolie.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-3.0
via Wikimedia Commons
The nation's greatest banks may currently be facing bankruptcy and desertion thanks to the revelation they've been fiddling  interest rates but, no matter what the interest level Top of the Pops generates, we return to it time and time again.

Who'll achieve chart solvency tonight and who'll merely drive us to solvent abuse?

Only Tony Blackburn can tell us. For it is he who is to guide us through the balance sheets of history.

We launch into the show with the continuity announcer telling us we're going to be treated to Bob Marley and the Wurzels. I don't know about you but Bob Marley and the Wurzels were my favourite group of the 1970s.

Not my favourite group of the 1970s are the first act on – mostly because I don't have a clue who they are.

That's because Top of the Pops is continuing its grand tradition of kicking off each show with an act and a track I don't recognise. Just how did the producers way back in 1977 know just what acts I'd have heard of in 2012?

Whoever they are, one of them has a cape. Capes are always impressive on a singer.

Is this Osibisa? I have no reason to think it is other than it might be.

Whatever it is, it's all very cheery and summery, though I suspect I won't remember it for more than thirty seconds after it's over.

It is Osibisa. Well done to me. Yet again my stunning knowledge of music pulls me through.

Now it's ELO and Telephone Line. It's the same video as the other week - and it's still one of my favourite ELO songs.

It's clearly not one of the producer's favourite ELO songs, as, three-quarters of the way through, it has a dirty great edit inflicted on it that's so devoid of subtlety you wonder if it was done with a lawn mower.

Now it's Gladys Knight and the Pips with Baby Don't Change Your Mind. It's on video and it's all very 1970s.

I think this may be the first time I've ever seen what Gladys Knight looks like. Somehow I always imagined her differently. The woman in the video seems far too young and small to be Gladys Knight.

Still, they all seem very happy people and that makes me pleased for them.

Gladys has gone and, for a moment, I get all excited thinking I can hear the strains of Billy Don't Be a Hero as Tony does his next link.

Tragically it's not Paper Lace at all. In fact it's turned out to be Neil Innes with a song I don't recognise.

Frankly, I don't want to recognise it. It's about the Queen and it's not exactly the Sex Pistols.

In fact it's positively puke-inducing. I'm listening hard to see if I can hear any signs of subversive irony in it all but it seems to be a straight tribute to the Her Maj. Frankly, in my eyes, this isn't doing Neil's standing a lot of good.

“Sailing on the yacht Britannia,” he sings. “Nowhere in the world would ban yer.” It's like he's desperately trying to undo all the good-will generated by his work with the Rutles.

That was genuinely appalling and makes you realise what some people'll do to try and get a knighthood.

In total contrast, you get the feeling the Stranglers'd just give a knighthood the good kicking it deserves...

...because they're back - and still in, “Evil Chas and Dave,” mode.

Thanks to Neil Innes, I'm enjoying this a lot more than I probably should be.

As though Greece hasn't suffered enough, Demis Roussos is back – this time with a strangely Scottish-sounding song.

It brings to mind the Goombay Dance Band - and I don't care what anyone says, that can't be a good thing.

He's hiding behind ferns, like a sniper who doesn't believe the war's over.

The way he's looking at the microphone you just know he's desperate to eat it.

Honky are with us.

Is this the song they did the other week or is it another one?

Whatever it is, the singer's still as unpleasant and disturbing as he was before. I really do feel he should have been banned from television.

Next, it's Legs and Company dancing to Show You The Way To Go by the Jacksons.

They've borrowed Demis Roussos's vegetation.

For some reason, the sun behind them's started flashing. Is Flick Colby sure the sun's meant to do things like that?

As promised before the show, it's Bob Marley.

Disgracefully, he's dumped the Wurzels and is hanging around with some other bunch called the Wailers.

I don't care who they are. They'll never have the magic of the Wurzels.

They're doing Exodus which I've never found to be one of his more interesting songs, mostly because it sounds like he's just making it up as he goes along and randomly throwing in the sort of words and phrases that'll make it sound like it's about something.

It's no I Am a Cider Drinker, that's for sure. Oh Bob, did you really not realise how much you needed Adge Cutler?

From someone who needs Adge to someone who needs a kick in the nadgers because Rod Stewart's still at Number 1! Is there to be no escape from that man's backside?

There is now because Rod's finally gone, and we're playing out with Emerson Lake and Palmer's Fanfare for the Common Man. This is more like it. It might all be a bit Prog but it's a cut above most of the acts on tonight.

I can't say it was a riveting show. The highlights were the Stranglers and ELO with performances we've already seen before. Lowlights have to have been the singer of Honky, Neil Innes' dismal bandwagon-jumping and the total absence of the Wurzels.

Still, we did get to see Bob Marley, even if it wasn't one my faves by him, we got to wave our little Union Jacks at something and I finally found out what Gladys Knight looks like.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Top of the Pops: 2nd June, 1977.

Drew Barrymore in a green dress baring her shoulders
Who'd have thought it'd be so hard to find a Free-Use
image of Twiggy?
In its place, here's one of former Hollywood wild-child
Drew Barrymore.
Michael Barrymore's catchphrase was, "Aw-wight?"
and sometime TOTP presenter Steve Wright had a hit
with I'm Alright. Therefore, Drew Barrymore has many
valid links with TOTP.
By David Shankbone (David Shankbone)
[GFDL (,
or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0
via Wikimedia Commons
The nation may be vexed by talk of Jimmy Carr's financial doings but there's only one matter taxing Steve Does Top of the Pops right now.

And that's who's going to be Number 1 this week in 1977? Who'll be finding a safe haven of chart liquidity and who's to become adrift off the shores of achievement, entangled in the loopholes of failure?

Only Noel Edmonds can tell us - for it is he who's to guide us tonight through the balance sheets of Nostalgia.

He wants to borrow my cheeky bits. I won't let him. I need my cheeky bits. I don't know what I need them for but I feel it's best to keep them close to hand, just in case.

Speaking of hands, someone has his on a piano.

It seems he belongs to Elkie Brooks who's doing a song I've never heard before in my entire life.

After the way thing have gone in recent times, it's now clear that each week's opening slot on Top of the Pops is reserved for songs I don't recognise.

It's all very jolly, whatever it is, but you do wonder if anyone at the record company really thought it had hit potential. I think it probably sums it up that I half expect Jools Holland to appear and join in.

Now that it's over, Noel tells us it's called Saved.

Sadly no one's saved us from the horror that's to come next as we get the Muppets and Halfway Down the Stairs.

I hated it at the time. Will 35 years of not having heard it have softened my heart?


It won't.

Not only that but it's bringing back terrible memories of Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop.

Yes I know Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop was a totally different act but, spiritually, it's hard to spot the difference.

The only thought that impresses me is the Muppets have nicer banisters than I do.

Now it's the Four Seasons and something that's either called Rhapsody or Vaseline. Noel's intro's got me confused.

It's another one I've never heard before. So far it's not sounding riveting.

In fact, they seem to be going for Liverpool Express's title of the world's most comatose group.

Even the presence of a balloon on stage can't create a sense of spontaneity.

Finally rid of the Four Seasons, we're joined by Twiggy.

She's doing that song the Three Degrees had a hit with. I was until now totally unaware Twiggy'd ever done a version of it.

Out of four songs on the show so far, I've only ever heard one before – and that was by the Muppets. It's not shaping up to be a vintage week.

In fairness, this is a perfectly functional version and she has a perfectly pleasant voice. You can't get round it though; she does have the eyes of a a murderer.

Now It's Jesse Green - and another one I've never heard of.

Whoever he is, he's very patriotic, with a great big Union Flag behind him, surrounded by light bulbs. Was this to do with the Silver Jubilee or was there some other reason for this rampant show of national pride?

Jesse's in an outfit that defies conventional description. He's wearing a hat The Shadow would wear if he wanted to look a berk, a tight leather jacket and what seems to be a very wide cravat.

The look might be distinctive but the song sounds like something you'd expect to hear on a cruise liner.

It's over - and we suddenly get a bizarre shot of vast acres of bare studio floor. Is this an accident or has the director decided this'll look somehow impressive?

Not that Legs and Co care. They're too busy dancing to Marvin Gaye.

I do quite like the lighting effects they're using for this performance - lights flashing on and off to highlight various different dancers. It was clearly choreographed back in the days before anyone cared about epilepsy.

No disrespect to Marvin but I'm getting a bored with him now. He seems to be dragging on forever.

Far livelier is Carole Bayer Sager with the same performance of You're Moving Out Today she did a couple of weeks ago.

I remember Jimmy Young playing this on his radio show at the time. That's not an interesting fact but it is at least a fact - and proof that I recognise something from this show.

She's doing her best but the Top of the Pops audience are as hard to please as ever.

Now it's the Strawbs with yet another one I've never heard of.

Weren't the Strawbs secretly the Monks who had a hit with Nice Legs, Shame About the Face? Or did I just imagine that?

The song itself has little life in it and sounds like a Kinks B-side.

Now Noel's interviewing the Alessi Brothers who seem about as excited to be there as the audience are.

Rod's still at Number 1. He seems to have been there all year. I'm starting to miss ABBA, especially as it's the same video every week.

Now Rod's gone and we play out with Genesis and yet another song I've never heard before.

Well, that was a very singular show, packed solid with songs with which I was previously unfamiliar, all of which made it clear very quickly why I was unfamiliar with them. Sadly, there was no Stranglers or Jam to up the energy levels – or even a Joy Sarney or Contempt to boggle the mind - so it just flopped there like a pancake someone had dropped and left half-hanging off a table with bits dropping onto the floor to be nibbled at by a bored-looking dog.

Who says this isn't the Steve Does Top of the Pops' Age of Simile?

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Top of the Pops: 26th May, 1977.

Twilight star Kristen Stewart sits, microphone in hand and wearing a leather jacket, at Wondercon 2012
In the absence of a free-use image of any of tonight's acts,
here's a photo of Twilight sexpot Kristen Stewart at Wondercon
Kristen Stewart has a very large chin. Nicky Chinn has written
very many large chart hits. Therefore Kristen Stewart has many
valid links with Top of the Pops.
Photo by Gage Skidmore
[CC-BY-SA-3.0 (]
via Wikimedia Commons.
Football fever may be sweeping Europe even as I speak but there's only one goal that matters to the wise man.

And that's getting to Number 1 in 1977.

In that quest to reach the top, who'll smash it in from 35 yards and who'll score a pitiful own goal that has his own fans booing him off at half-time?

Only the man my late father used to know as Dave Lee Travesty can tell us. For it is he who's to guide us through the congested midfield of nostalgia and spray his balls deep and wide into the corridors of uncertainty.

We kick off with the original Blue, yet again getting the first, unannounced, slot on the show.

Sadly, the early start hasn't fired them up with enthusiasm. Their performance is as lacklustre as their previous one.

They're still going to take their soul to town but they're still not telling us what they're going to do with it when they get there. I like to think they're going to sell it to Satan but, given their dullness, I fear such melodrama to be beyond them.

But they've drifted away on the breeze and we're suddenly blessed with Olivia Newton John and Sam.

It's all very pleasant but I really don't have anything to say about it. Who could've thought when we were first hearing this that, a year later, she'd be giving us some of the most iconic pop moments of the 1970s?

It's the return of Liverpool Express. For such a barely remembered act, it really is amazing just how often they managed to be on TOTP.

Whatever the song is, it's not off to a promising start. So far, it's flatlining as badly as all their other stuff. I'm quickly coming to the conclusion that Liverpool Express were the Mogadon Smokie.

Would that make them Smogadon?

Didn't Godzilla once have a fight with Smogadon? If he didn't, he should have. After all, if Godzilla won't keep us safe from the terror of Smogadon then who will?

Not Dave Lee Travis, that's for sure. Now the song's finally curled up and died, he's up on stage with the culprits, doing something that approximates an interview. Such is the power of Dave Lee Travis that, within seconds of him joining them, Liverpool Express are trying to kill him. All of a sudden I'm warming to them.

Now it's Legs and Co and something that's clearly meant to be Chinese.

In fact it's meant to be Japanese because it's Bryan Ferry with Tokyo Joe.

It's another track I have very little to say about.

That's not the case with our next turn because, from out of the blue, we launch into the Stranglers with Go Buddy Go.

This is more like it.

Or is it?

Something's not quite right here. I was anticipating snarly spleen-venting and hard-core contempt but, in truth, they seem rather jolly. In all honesty the thing seems to owe more to Chas and Dave than it does to the Sex Pistols.

We get the keyboard solo and it's all starting to sound like the Only Fools and Horses theme. You have to say it's no No More Heroes.

Also no No More Heroes is Marie Myriam with this year's Eurovision winner.

This is quite nice. It's certainly better than Rock Bottom and she seems far less sinister than Lynsey De Paul.

It's one of those songs that doesn't really go anywhere and, so, craftily makes up for it by constantly building as it goes along.

Next up it's ELO and Telephone Line. DLT does the joke about them being from Yorkshire - the one he seemed to do every single time he ever played them on the radio.

Matching the debut of the Stranglers for out-of-the-blueness, is the left-field return of Brendon with another of his smashes. This time it's a thing that seems to be called Rock Me.

And this is weird because I quickly realise I remember this.

How can it be?

How can I remember a Brendon song? What madness is this that's come over me?

But this is strangely endearing.

He's doing his best to get the audience going.

And he's actually succeeding. The famously apathetic TOTP audience is actually clapping along with him. I do feel that in many ways Brendon has been the true star of TOTP since these repeats began, if only for his ability to engage with the audience in a way few acts seemed able to.

But now Brendon's gone and it's time for this week's Number 1. The half hour's flown by and we're back with Rod and his musical arse.

Appropriately, bearing in mind that this post began with European football talk, we play-out with the Liverpool team who've just won the European Cup.

In fairness it's about as close to punk as the Stranglers were.

So there we are. The Stranglers were a disappointment to me, bringing far too much pub and too little punk to the table. Brendon scored a personal triumph by getting the audience to notice he existed, and Liverpool Express almost killed Dave Lee Travesty. I don't think this week's show'll go down as a classic but at least we can't claim it was devoid of incident.


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