Thursday, 20 September 2012

Top of the Pops: 18th August, 1977.

I can't find a decent Free-Use pic of any of tonight's acts,
so here's a lovely photo of Fingal's Cave in Staffa, Scotland.
By Velela (Public Domain).
Never  one to waste time, Dave Lee Travis flings us straight into it with the chart countdown and the Stranglers doing Something Better Change.

What with Jonathan Richman last week and the Stranglers this, the BBC have clearly decided the countdown is the best place to put the "challenging" songs.

But, for the serious music lover, nothing could be more challenging than the Dooleys - and they're up next, with something or other.

I must admit my memories of the Dooleys are vague. While I have strongish recall of the music, in terms of what they looked like I think I may have spent the last thirty-odd years mixing them up with Liquid Gold.

Upon re-acquaintance with them, they're not the most glamorous outfit I've ever seen.

Nor are they wearing the most glamorous outfits I've ever seen.

But the Dooleys depart and - hooray - it's the act some of us have been waiting all year for.

It's the Floaters - and Float On.

Has there ever been a band with a more unfortunate name? Has there ever been a band whose only hit was more lampoonable?

And, for that matter, how exactly does one, "Float on?"

Charles likes a woman who's quiet.

Paul's fussy. He likes all the women of the world.

While Larry - funny how he's the one who's lingered longest in the memory - likes a woman who loves everyone and everybody.

What a desperate bunch of men they turned out to be.

I wonder if Elkie Brooks would've been impressed by Larry? She's on now, doing Since You Went Away.

All respect to Elkie, who we established several months ago is a seething volcano of female sexuality but I'm already starting to get bored with her.

Now it's Mink DeVille. For some reason I always get them mixed up with the aforementioned Jonathan Richman.

I've never seen them before and they don't look like I expected. I always thought they'd look like the Cars.

Actually, this does sound more like My Best Friend's Girl than I ever noticed before. In fact, I think you can sing My Best Friend's Girl right over the top of it.

Meanwhile, the singer seems to be in a different group from the rest of the band.

Despite all their best efforts, I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion this is rubbish.

What's on next certainly isn't.


Because it's Carly Simon and my favouritest ever James Bond theme. Who can listen to this song without at once being transported back to a magical time of cars that turn into submarines, and giants with metal teeth? And how many songs can you say that about?

Not so hooray! Carly's being danced to by Legs and Co.

Those are interesting outfits they're wearing. They look like Dale Arden in full-on Mongo gear.

In fact, if Hela - the goddess of death from Thor - joined Legs and Co, that's exactly the look she'd go for.

As Hela's a bit of a role model of mine, that realisation quickly convinces me this is a good look.

I would say I really don't have a clue what the dance has to do with the song but I say that every week, so I won't. But I can say their aimless physical meanderings have managed the seemingly impossible and drained away all my enthusiasm for the song.

We're back to Dave Lee Travis and he's with a woman whose top proclaims the word, "Midge." Is she an Ultravox fan who's got to the studio too early or a Slik fan who's got there too late?

Danny Williams is back, with the Martini music.

He still looks like someone who'd sell you something dodgy on a street corner - although I'm sure he's not really.

The Rah Band are back for what seems like the millionth time, and still failing to convince me that balaclavas are a good look for a pop star.

I've lost reception again. Why does this happen every week at this time? It's like someone's trying to jam my signal in an effort to ruin my enjoyment.

I'm back in time for a woman singing the Bee Gees' Nights on Broadway. My finely tuned knowledge of popular music tells me she might be Candi Staton.

But I've lost my reception again...

...and suddenly I'm confronted by the Jam and All Around the World, leading me to conclude that Candi can't have been on for long.

I've come to the decision that this isn't one of the Jam's best, but they are at least doing their best to liven up what's been a somewhat moribund edition.

Someone you could never call moribund are the Brotherhood of Man. They even manage to make Mexican suicides sound like fun. Not only that but they're suddenly at Number 1, with Angelo.

But, hold on a moment. Hasn't this been out for months and months and months? They must've been on Top of the Pops at least a million times doing it already. Just how long did it take to reach the top spot?

No doubt lacking all interest in such conundra, Space play us out with Magic Fly. Or is it Magic Fly playing us out with Space? I was never sure which it was but, whatever it's called and whoever it's by, like Nobody Does it Better, this is one of the tracks I most strongly associate with 1977.

It was an oddly disjointed show, veering awkwardly between the likes of the Jam and the Stranglers and the likes of the Floaters and the Dooleys. If any show demonstrates that 1977 saw a nation musically divided then it has to have been this one.

It'd be nice to say the contrast was invigorating but it proved to be more frustrating, as the serious groups drained all fun from proceedings, as the sillier groups drained all gravitas from them. Could this be the fate of British music from now on? To be hopelessly fractured beyond consolidation?

Only time - and possibly 1978 - will be able to tell us.


Dougie said...

My brother owned and drove a Lotus Esprit in the mid-90s. It didn't go under the sea but it did feel dangerously close to the road surface, like a go-kart. He bought it because of The Spy Who Loved Me. It was like getting a lift in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to be honest.

Steve W. said...

I've always wanted a Lotus Esprit because of that film. It's one of the few cars I've ever wanted to own.

Erithian said...

That Brotherhood of Man chart run in full: 25-10-5-4-2-2-1-2-3-6-9-19. And I think they were on TOTP well before they entered the 30 as well. Thank God we've heard the last of it until Christmas.

Steve W. said...

Thanks, Erithian.

wilberforce said...

unfortunately we haven't heard the last of the brotherhood of man as "figaro" is still to come - i can't actually remember how it goes now, but i do recall i hated it as much as i did "angelo". if the latter is anything to go by, somehow i don't think my opinion will be changed once i'm exposed to it again!

Steve W. said...

I seem to recall the chorus of Figaro goes something like, "Whoah-ho Figaro! He's got magic oh whoah oh!" It's quality stuff alright.

Bear Boy said...

I think Angelo led to the only Barron Knights parody that actually felt worthwhile and not just cringingly as bad as the original. In any case references to a "chip shop in Walthamstow" and shooting down the highway "like Barry Sheene" have always come more readily to mind than a faux tragic knockoff of Abba's Fernando.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should try to listen to Elkies vocals. Get yourself an education. Elkie is a GREAT singer.


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