Thursday, 27 September 2012

Top of the Pops: 25th August, 1977.

Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats at Knotts Berry Farm, 1981
The Boomtown Rats in 1981. Author unknown;
Photo courtesy Orange County Archives
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A little bird tells me that tonight's show sees the Top of the Pops debuts of two very memorable acts.

Will we get to see them in full? Or will one of them be relegated to a thirty second slot, playing over the chart rundown, while the other gets stuck on the play-out ?

More to the point, will I actually be able to get through an edition without losing my reception?

Only Noel Edmonds can tell us.

And tell us he does - because the rundown music is by no debutante. It's by Donna Summer, with Down Deep Inside. Was this the theme tune to Peter Benchley's The Deep, or am I going completely mad?

Whatever it's from, she's sounding extremely tired as she sings it; loads of moaning, groaning and sighing. I think she needs a good lie down.

Eddie and the Hot Rods certainly don't. Why? Because The Bloke Who Isn't Eddie's full of bounce.

You can tell he's the authentic voice of punk. He keeps getting too close to the camera.

But who can believe it? The audience are actually showing an interest and are actually moving.

Could it be? Could the segment of the nation represented by Top of the Pops finally have embraced the new music that's forced Kid Jensen into endless euphemisms these past few weeks?

A man who forces no euphemisms is the highest new entry. It's Elvis Presley. I bet he was excited when he found out about that.

This doesn't seem to be a very highly regarded song but, as a non-Presley fan, I've always liked it.

But Legs and Co are looking far too cheery to be dancing to a song that's only on the charts because its singer's dead.

And why do they insist on pointing upwards when he sings, "Way on down"?

There's no time to ponder that because it's the first of those memorable acts I mentioned.

It's the Boomtown Rats.

They're doing Looking After Number One.

They don't seem to be taken very seriously these days but, to some of us, they were a breath of fresh air at the time.

First Eddie and the Hot Rods. Now the Boomtown Rats. The Top of the Pops' times really are a-changing.

Like The Bloke Who's Not Called Eddie, Bob keeps getting too close to the camera.

And, as with The Bloke Who's Not Called Eddie, the audience are joining in with Bob.

I'm not. But that's only because I've just lost reception.

What is it? Every week this happens. Are Elkie Brooks fans trying to block transmission to this house in a desperate attempt to stop me posting my always wrong opinions on her?

Whatever the truth of the matter, they won't succeed. I'm determined to inflict my irrelevant drivel on this land, no matter what it takes.

I'm back and the Rats have gone, replaced by a woman whose identity I'm not sure of. Is it Deniece Williams?

Whoever she is, she's wearing my curtains and singing what appears to be That's What Friends Are For.

It is Deniece Williams. My knowledge of pop never ceases to amaze me.

Thin Lizzy never cease to amaze me either. How many times can they be on with the same song?

Like Not Eddie and Bob, Phil's also too close to the camera.

Has he got a black eye or is it just makeup?

Someone must have put something in the audience's coffee tonight because they're even bobbing around to this one, creating an effect strangely redolent of Wings' video to With a Little Luck, only with teenagers instead of children.

Is that John Helliwell from Supertramp on sax?

Look at me. I can even identify sax players. I'm like the new Paul Gambaccini.

Now it's Space and Magic Fly.

I used to have a space helmet like that. I used to pretend it was a portable TV.

Actually, my space helmet was better. It said, "NASA,"on it and had a fake microphone that didn't do anything.

I got mine in 1969, eight years before Space got theirs. Take that, pop stars.

But now it's the second of the memorable acts I mentioned.

It's the Adverts and Gary Gilmore's Eyes.

Gary Gilmore's Eyes and Looking After Number One are the first punk songs the show's featured that I remember from when they came out. I suppose this means this is the week punk's finally arrived for me.

I never noticed before that this sounds like the Monster Mash.

And the audience are bobbing again.

Unlike Gaye Advert who looks suitably disinterested.

The Adverts depart and I miss Noel's intro to the next act, meaning that, so far, I don't have a clue who it is.

It's a strange woman who's borrowed her hair from Rula Lenska and her wardrobe from Suzanne Danielle

Whoever she is, she can't sing.

She looks like someone I used to know at school. Actually, she looks exactly like someone I knew at school.

It's all over and, apparently, she and her equally tone deaf friends were called Page Three.

And just to drag us all down completely from the show's previous highs, the Floaters are somehow at Number 1.

I wonder why luminous blues suits went out of fashion?

As we contemplate that mystery, we play out with Jean Michel Jarre and what I think is Oxygene, meaning we've had two foreign instrumentals in one show - the show in which Noel Edmonds declared it's rare to get instrumentals on the chart.

So it's all over and you can't get away from it, it was a show in which the bracing wind of modernity was unmissable. Instead of the usual rubbish, we got not one but three songs that could be called punk. We got two euro synth instrumentals. We got Thin Lizzy who were hardly new music but certainly weren't traditional Top of the Pops fare and we got Donna Summer.

Page Three and the Floaters aside, it has to represent a jolting leap into what was then the present, a reminder that the 1970s were nearing their end and a whole new musical age was inescapably looming into view.


Dougie said...

I think the 70s ended after Live Aid. I don't remember many variety acts like Joe Dolce, The Barron Knights etc. troubling Ver Charts ( Star Trekkin & Mr. Blobby being obvious exceptions but the latter has me thinking "sorted for Es and Whizz in a field", not a present for Granny. Unless your granny's fae Easterhoose.)

Dougie said...

This is why I refer to Colin Baker as the first 80s Dr. Who- blond, bouffant,synthetic tartan pomp.

Arthur Nibble said...

Your best summary yet, sir. I dare / plead with you to mention the Way Down pointy-uppy bit on Yes It's Number One.

Steve W. said...

Thanks, Arthur. I must admit that the fact that I liked most of the acts on last night's show did enthuse me for the task in a way that the show doesn't always.

Anonymous said...

Don't think Elkie Brooks fans could give a crap about your blog !!! They are too busy listening to good music. Get over it.

Tyrone Jenkins said...

This is a great blog! Your suggestion that this episode (minus Pagethree and The Floaters!)at last reflects something of the mood of 1977 and anticipates the following few years is quite true.
Unfortunately (or fortunately for our irony antennae)the cabaret/Wheeltappers and Shunters end of the market is equally, or perhaps even more, reflective of public taste as interpreted by Radio One etc. Its this grab-bag of confused taste and dispirate trends that make the 70s such an interesting pop culture period.

Steve W. said...

Hi, Tyrone and thanks for the praise.

Tyrone Jenkins said...

Are you going to do a write up of the Kenny Everett-fronted 1973 TOTP?

Steve W. said...

Hi, Tyrone. I'm afraid time constraints mean doing one show a week's about as much as I can manage.

I did see the edition in question and thought it was all right - apart from Engelbert Humperdinck who seemed completely out of place on the show, bearing in mind who the other acts were.

Pan's People seemed surprisingly dignified after months of watching Legs and Co.

I did dig the groovy graphics.

Kenny's country bumpkin routine fell a little flat with me, although I suppose we should give him credit for at least trying to be different.

Anonymous said...

You're not very good at this.


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