Thursday, 18 October 2012

Top of the Pops: 22nd September, 1977.

Bob Geldof 1981
The Boomtown Rats' Bob Geldof
by Helge Øverås (Own work)
[CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Thanks to circumstances in the dim and distant future, the show may have hit rocky waters in recent weeks - but never fear, because Dave Lee Travis is here to keep things wholesome.

Straight away we're hit with the inevitable Magic Fly. In fact, I do believe the song was actually re-titled The Inevitable Magic Fly halfway through its chart run, to take its Top of the Pops ubiquity into account.

All sensible human beings love the record, of course but I am starting to wonder if someone in the band was related to the Director General. This has to be the eleventeenth week running they've been on.

From a band we know so well, to one I've never heard of. And if I had I'm sure I'd remember, as they go by the unwieldy but distinctive title of Hank the Knife and the Jets.

I don't like to be cruel but, so far, it's reminding me of Russ Abbott's attempts at rock and roll on his comedy show.

It also sounds like they're trying to jump on the Mud bandwagon three years after it left town.

There's some interesting Duane Eddyness on guitar.

There's some more Duane Eddyness on guitar.

In fact, I'd be so bold as to say there's too much Duane Eddyness for the good of a single record.

It's all over and, despite Hank and his guitarist's best efforts, I have to give it a thumbs-down I'm afraid.

DLT's back, accompanied by two young females. It's strange how everything that happens on the show seems to take on an oddly sinister air now.

Someone no one could ever label sinister are on next because it's La Belle Epoque and Black Is Black.

This is more like it. You can't beat a good bit of Boney M style Euro disco.

Well, as it turns out, you can. It's all pleasant but somehow lacks the M's magic. It also, for some reason, makes me think of Eruption and how much better than this their big hit was.

Packing more spirit than you can shake a stick at are the Stranglers, back with what has to be their greatest achievement - and one of the late 1970s' greatest records - No More Heroes.

It's a much more focused performance than their Go Buddy one. None of that messing around for them this time, just unalloyed stroppiness.

Showing no stroppiness at all, Legs and Co arrive to accompany The Best Of My Love by someone. DLT did tell us who it was but I missed it.

Is it me or are those tops dangerously see-through?

And yet, strangely, you can't see through them.

And I say that as someone who's sat three inches away from the screen.

It's almost over, and DLT's joined them on stage.

He's chasing one of them.

Oh dear. He's not doing the show's reputation any favours right now.

Leo Sayer's back with Thunder In My Heart. According to Dave, I'm going to love it.

I suspect I might not.

Still, I like to be nothing if not open-minded, and so I shan't pass judgement until it's over.

Leo's roaming around a seaside resort that I don't recognise. I'm going to assume it's either Brighton or Margate but have no reason whatsoever to think it's either.

Wherever he is, Leo really does sound like he's being strangled.

A helter skelter! Helter skelters are looming large in my life right now, for reasons I can't go into.

But Leo's gone and I can confirm that I did indeed not enjoy it..

DLT probably doesn't care about that.


Because he's back  with another young woman.

And now there's two more young women, as Baccara appear, with Yes Sir, I can Boogie.

They're borrowing Donna Summer's groaning.

Frankly, this is terrible. It'd be nice to say it has a kitsch charm but it doesn't. It's just dull, thinly sung and pointless.

Dave's back with two more young women.

The Boomtown Rats are back - without young women - and still Looking After Number 1.

Bob does look surprisingly neat and tidy for this performance.

I spot pogo-ing in the audience. This gives me great pleasure.

Dave's back.

With another young woman.

And another young woman appears. It's Meri Wilson doing her novelty hit Telephone Man.

I always wanted a phone like that. I wonder if you can still get them?

I hated this song at the time and I hate it now. It really is is dreary.

In fact, I'm bored already.

But, suddenly, we get a shock.

Because Dave Lee Travis isn't with a young woman.

He introduces us to Stardust, yet another act I've never heard of.

The singer seems to be a cross between Stan Boardman and a jar of marmalade.

They might be Swedish and therefore could be cruelly labelled the band that ABBA could have been if no one had liked them but they actually sound more like that lot who were on last week - the ones who'd been in the Strawbs.

Just to up the ante dramatically, Dave Lee Travis is back with four young women.

Elvis Presley doesn't care about that. He's still dead and still at Number 1 - two things that tend to make one oblivious to scandal.

And we play out with a track by Stevie Wonder that I'm totally incapable of identifying. Whatever it is, it sounds quite appealing. And I say that as someone who's not a natural fan of Stevie.

To be honest, tonight's show wasn't what could be called a cracker.

In fact, it was pretty sub-par, with the highlight being the Stranglers and the low-light being Stardust. Too many acts had a tired, dated or over-familiar feel to them. And, yet, too many felt deservedly unfamiliar. The warming ray of light cast upon us a couple of weeks ago feels already like a false dawn and we can only hope things liven up next week.


Aggy said...

Lets face it the story of tonights TOTP is the even odder than usual antics of DLT. Obviously they had no way of knowing that the show would repeat in 2012 at the same time as an ever increasing number of scandals. Scandals including a story of DLT being a bit "grabby". But tell me you didn't get a chill when he creeped up behind a dancer of Legs and Co.

Outside that the best performances have been shown to death on other shows. But don't we all watch for the one hit (sometimes no hit) wonders the world has forgotten?



Ok just me then

janie9 said...

I totally agree with your description of Stardust. Those jumpsuits??? How could those guys have a wee? The lead singer with the pre Mick Hucknall look and the guy going bald with a true mullet. Too much hands on from DLT..will we ever view TOPS in the same light again?

Steve W. said...

Janie and Aggy, sadly it seems our TOTP innocence is lost.

I do agree that the one-hit wonders are often the highlight of the show. The likes of Contempt and Joy Sarney have been a revelation to me. Sadly, I can't help feeling that tonight's lesser known acts lacked such memorability.

Jesse said...

Anyone knows how I can see this show outside the UK?

Wish to see Stardust, living next door to the drummer.

He is still playin with a couple of local bands.

Steve W. said...

Jesse, I think the BBC blocks online access for those outside the UK. However, what usually happens is that, within a week or so of broadcast, someone posts the performances on Youtube. So, with a little luck, you should soon be able to see your neighbour on there.

wilberforce said...

steve: another great review that had me laughing out loud at the thought of your nose 3 inches away from the screen trying to determine whether legs' tops were see-through or not! keep up the good work (especially as your "rival" at trip tv now seems to have given up the ghost)

jesse: next time you see your next-door-neighbour, please tell him from me that that song they did on totp was a shocker!

wilberforce said...

aggy: i watch it mainly for the stuff that everyone's forgotten too - you can keep the likes of bowie's "starman" (yawn) and all the other usual suspects that keep cropping up on retro shows...

Steve W. said...

Hi, Wilberforce, thanks for the praise. I'm sure any others who blog on the same subject have good reasons for not always being able to do full posts every week. Sadly, life does tend to get in the way of blogging at times.

Equally sadly, I have to concede that I myself will be giving up the ghost at the end of the year, as it dawned on me soon after I started doing this that if I didn't I'd be in danger of reviewing these things every week for the next thirty years - and the thought of reviewing the Fearne Cotton years when I'm pushing eighty doesn't bear thinking about. Given that this blog does have to finish at some point, the end of this year therefore does seem a fair cut-off point.

Arthur Nibble said...

Bugger! Sorry to hear that, Steve. You've been an excellent 'half-brother' to Yes It's Number One. I realise this is a labour of love becoming a chore, but I've enjoyed your comments. Cheers

Steve W. said...

Thanks, Arthur, and thanks for all your comments over the months.

wilberforce said...

steve, give up your job (if you have one) and become a hermit/recluse if you have to, but don't stop doing this blog! well, at least not until the early 80's episodes anyway (assuming they keep showing these totp's)... as far as i can remember, you have just reached double figures in comments for the first time - if you keep it up, maybe one day like "yes it's number one" you'll get that hallowed century...?

Steve W. said...

Tragically, Wilberforce, I fear that another year of doing this would drive me completely mad and leave me as a twisted husk of a man.

Kid said...

Funnily enough, I caught part of a DLT hosted TOTP show on a Freeview channel the other night, and my first thought was how creepy it looked with him standing with his arms around young girls. Our innocence has gone forever.

Apparently, Jimmy Savile's last girlfriend before he died accused him of being a paedophile. His response? "That's an awfully big word for a six-year old."

(Just letting some air out of the balloon .)


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