Thursday, 29 March 2012

Top of the Pops: 24th March, 1977.

Dr Who assistant and red haired Scottish sexpot Karen Gillan signs an autograph while surrounded by HMV logos
Yet again I can't find a free-use image appropriate to
tonight's show. So here's a lovely picture of Dr Who
sexpot Karen Gillan signing an autograph.
Karen shares a surname with a well-known rock
vocalist and looks like Jim Kerr, thus has many valid
links with TOTP.
Photo by MangakaMaiden [CC-BY-2.0],
via Wikimedia Commons 
The past may be a different country but there's one land we need no passport to visit, one that has no visas and no secret police to fear.

It's the magical kingdom of Top of the Pops. But what tourist hotspots and ancient wonders will we encounter on our journey?

Only Dave Lee Travis can tell us, for it is he who's our guide into strange realms tonight.

And we launch straight into the mighty Brendon. I have at least learned how to spell his name in the fortnight since his previous appearance.

Not only that but his band're actually stood near him this week.

He's not exactly what you'd call a looker but he seems a lot happier to be here than he did last time out – and he's having a good old go at trying to get the audience moving.

Blow me down if he isn't succeeding - and it's not every act that can make that boast when it comes to the infamously zombie-esque TOTP audience.

One of his band seems to have stolen a hat from the Rubettes. I hope that doesn't lead to trouble.

Dave Lee Travis has a woman on his T-shirt but I can't make out who.

He's introducing us to, “A woman who's been singing for a long long time,” prompting the thought she must be getting tired by now.

But no, it's Elkie Brooks - and she's showing no signs of fatigue.

It's surely her best ever record; Pearl's A Singer. I believe Leiber and Stoller produced this.

There was clearly something in the water in 1977 because, the way they're dressed, she and her band could pass for Manhattan Transfer.

This has to have the least inspired bass line in the history of popular music but it's an appealing song, so who cares?

This song always brings to mind Roy North singing Earl's A Winger on Get It Together. This is the second week running I've mentioned Roy North on this blog. Whoever would've thought that'd happen, way back when I launched it?

Maybe I should launch a Roy North Appreciation Blog. I feel sure it'd be a smash hit and quite the internet sensation.

Actually, thinking about it, it's hard to know why this song's meant to be taken as a sad one. Pearl's life doesn't sound that bad to me.

Now it's The Brotherhood of Man with Oh Boy. They still haven't got round to ending all their song titles with the letter “O” yet, but're still fumbling instead with the concept of starting them with it.

I do wonder how the male members felt about having to sing lyrics clearly written for heterosexual women.

I am of course assuming the male singers were themselves heterosexual. A fact I have no evidence at all to support other than that they look like they want to be seen as such.

The girls're dressed like children's TV presenters. They're a bit Sarah Jane Smith, circa 1976.

In fairness, the girls have very good voices. They're no Agnetha and Anni-Frid but they're nice and clear nonetheless.

Graham Parker and the Rumour are back. He actually seems to have shrunk since last week. Are they sure he's not a native of Flores?

Now it's two people whose names I didn't catch.

I didn't catch the song's title either but there're two of them - a man and a woman - singing to each other while a strange contraption revolves bafflingly behind them.

“You don't have to be a star to be in my show,” they're singing.

But what is that thing revolving behind them? It looks like some new Dr Who monster. Why would they want a revolving Dr Who monster behind them as they sing?

Regardless of monsters, the singers seem very happy to be in each other's presence.

Suddenly we get women in Motoring Unit T-shirts.

Now we get the Dead End Kids. With a name like that, I can only conclude that, at last, punk has arrived.

Or possibly not.

Have I the Right? It's all very Bay City Rollers but that's no bad thing.

But you do wonder who decided 1977 was exactly the right time to try sounding like the Bay City Rollers.

It may be dated for those of us living at the cutting edge of 1977 but I can't deny I do have a soft spot for this kind of music.

Apathetic chime playing. That's something the Bay City Rollers never had.

Smokie. Somehow it wouldn't feel like TOTP without them. OK, all their records blur into one for me but I don't care. I will never get tired of listening to them.

Nice bass.

Now Legs and Co are dancing to Boney M's Sunny. While I wouldn't want to put Legs and Co out of work, I do feel cheated at not being able to see Bobby dancing around to it.

Good grief! It's T Rex! There's one from left field. Who expected to be seeing them on the show?

I didn't. And I'm an expert.

Mostly I'm an expert at not expecting things.

He's looking a bit Johnny Depp.

I've never heard this song before in my life but it seems quite nice.

The Captain and Tenille. I wouldn't trust him to steer a boat.

They've been together since 1971. I wonder if they're still together? I hope so. I'd like to think it's all ended more happily for them than it did for the Carpenters.

Manhattan Transfer are still at Number 1, and TOTP is still using that footage.

It takes me back to the Blitz, even though I wasn't there.

I don't care what anyone says, she's just the wrong shape to have nipples.

I have realised she's actually singing, “Chanson Da Moo.” This thought leads me nowhere.

Not for the first time, they're playing out with David Bowie and Sound and Vision.

But still no Ken Morse. How did the show survive so long without a rostrum camera?

And, for that matter, just what is a rostrum camera?


suedehead said...

Brotherhood Of Man rtying to be like Abba? Soon you'll be saying that Angelo was an attempt to copy Fernando

suedehead said...

Oops, trying

suedehead said...

Me again. The second act you missed was T Rex. It was a long way short of Marc Bolan's best but it proved to be his last performance before being killed in a road accident.

Steve W. said...

When it comes to the Brotherhood of Man I'm always controversial. Just wait till you hear my scandalous claim that Save All Your Kisses For Me sounded like Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree. It's a wonder they let me on the internet.

HannibalCat said...

The duo you missed the names of were Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jnr, one hit wonders suffering from that 70's "You must smile while singing" disease.

Steve W. said...

Thanks, HannibalCat. It's always nice to have the gaps in my knowledge filled.

Anonymous said...

good work.

I am stunned that Marc Bolan seemingly employed a load of brickies for what turned out to be the final version of T.Rex.

Steve W. said...

Thanks, Anon. :)

Stevenw888 said...

How could you forget "You Don't Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)"? It was regularly hummed in our house. It was a song by the husband/wife duo of Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., former members of the vocal group The 5th Dimension. Released from their album, I Hope We Get to Love in Time, it became a crossover success soaring to number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Soul Singles charts during late 1976 and early 1977.[1] The song also reached #6 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart and #7 on the UK Singles Chart[2]. It would eventually be certified Gold, selling over one million singles, and win them a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
Thanks wikipedia!

Steve W. said...

I'm sorry, Steven. All I can do is plead temporary insanity. Admittedly the insanity that made me forget it seems to have lasted roughly 35 years but still....

Martin Palmer said...

Hi, just started to read your blog, regular TOTP viewer myself since I caught one of the 1976 ones. Just so you know, "Earl's a Winger" was sung by Richard Digance ( - in case you really wanted to know... :)

Steve W. said...

Hi, Martin. Welcome to the site and thanks for the "Earl's a Winger" info. :)


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