Thursday, 30 January 2014

This is the Sound of Top of the Pops

Over in ITV on the 1st February 1979 we had:  6.35 Crossroads 7.00 Wish You Were Here 7.30 Jim Davidson Show 8.00 Rising Damp 8.30 TV Eye 9 Streets Of San Francisco 10 News

And on the good old Aunty Beeb: 6.20 Nationwide 6.55 Tomorrow's World 7.10 Top of the Pops 7.55 Blankety Blank 8.30 Butterflies 9 News 9.25 Euro Figure Skating Champs

A tough decision, but I think it will have to be.....

Top of the Pops!
1-2-79: Presenter: Mike Read

(27) EDWIN STARR – Contact (and charts)
(51) NAZARETH – May The Sun Shine
(3) THE THREE DEGREES – Woman In Love ®
(37) THE MEMBERS – The Sound Of The Suburbs
(19) SALLY OLDFIELD – Mirrors ®
(39) UFO – Doctor Doctor
(14) BILLY JOEL – My Life (video)
(52) TWO MAN SOUND – Que Tal America
(28) GENERATION X – King Rocker
(61) THE POINTER SISTERS – Everybody Is A Star
(7) DRIVER 67 – Car 67 ®
(1) BLONDIE – Heart Of Glass (danced to by Legs & Co)
(8) ABBA – Chiquitita (and credits)

Edwin Starr ~ any relation to Ringo? sings over the chart rundown this week :-)

Nazareth ~ An unlikely fusion of folk and heavy metal here from this band from Dunfermline, who featured guitarist Zal Cleminson,  recently transferred from the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.

The Three Degrees ~ another showing for this Giorgio Moroder produced song, although I think we are being treated to the Top of the Pops Orchestra produced version here :-)

The Members ~ very enthusiastically introduced by our host Mike Read, this song was produced by Steve Lillywhite, both future U2 producer and Kirsty MacColl husband. (Nice shot of a multi-coloured punk hairdo in the audience too)

Sally Oldfield ~ a repeat showing of the fairy-like Mirrors, now at its peak of 19 in the charts.

UFO ~ another song on the heavy side on tonight's show, a bit too heavy it turns out to rise any higher than 35 in the charts.

Billy Joel ~ was edited out of the 7.30 showing. Still, not a bad week for him sitting side by side in the top 15 with Barry White's cover of Just the Way You Are.

Two Man Sound ~ the slightly mad chap on the bongos is Yves Lacomblez who wrote Ca Plane Pour Moi for Plastic Bertrand ~ but more than that, the frontman Lou Deprijck, is the guy who actually sang the vocals on it! They couldn't repeat that success with this record though, which failed to make the top 40, despite Rosie and Gill's best dancing efforts.

Generation X ~ looking and sounding very much like Adam & the Ants here - this record became their biggest hit and was released in four different colours of vinyl.

The Pointer Sisters ~ were edited out of the 7.30 showing, catch them at 12.30am

Driver 67 ~ also edited out, how could they? It was a repeat showing though from a couple of weeks ago.

Blondie ~ the rare sight here of a Legs & Co routine to the number 1 song - the celebrated video must not have been ready yet? Heart of Glass had actually been written several years earlier, but never satisfactorily recorded until this mega hit version - proving maybe that the best things come to those who wait.

Abba ~ play us out this week, and we'll have to wait until next week, the 8th February 1979, to see the Legs & Co interpretation of this quite brilliant song.


  1. TOTP would have started at 7.20 not 7.10

  2. ..and the Pointers weren't edited out of the early showing!

  3. Yes I think you're right on both counts ~ must've dozed off during the Pointer Sisters ;-)

  4. ..thanks! In fact, during the Pointers on Channel 9 freeview during the early showing (probably not on the HD one though!)the top left DOG saying BBCFOUR changed to CBEEBIES, then back to BBCFOUR, then it vanished!

  5. I have "Que tal America" on 12 inch single, the brilliant 9m 20s version remixed by Pete Waterman, who is also credited as doing A&R for the single.

    Yes, THAT Pete Waterman!

  6. What a weird show.
    Two dreadful rock plodders in UFO and Nazareth, an unexpected Legs & Co routine for the chart topper (I assumed we'd get the video) and the funniest thing that's been on the show for ages in Two Man Sound.

    As for the DOG, on the late night repeat, I noticed a double BBCFOUR for most of the show but not CBEEBIES. Although as it went normal during the Pointer Sisters, I may have missed it. I think I got distracted during that dreary tune!

  7. Two of the people behind Two Man Sound were also the people behind the success of Plastic Bertrand some 7 months earlier. Yves Lacomblez, the madcap bongo player we saw on Thursday, was the writer of 'Ca Plane Pour Moi' while Two Man Sound vocalist Lou Deprijck was the producer of 'Ca Plane Pour Moi'. In addition, revealed in a Belgian court in 2006, Deprijck was the actual vocalist on 'Ca Plane Pour Moi' with Plastic Bertrand merely being the "face" of the song. In fact court documents revealed that Deprijck provided all the vocals for Plastic's first three albums before Plastic decided to "go it alone" and began to record his own vocals.

  8. Ah, "The Sound Of The Suburbs", a classic round my neck of the woods, as the instrumental bridge includes the announcement of the Staines to Aldershot train and all calling stations (I come from a town next to Staines, or Staines-Upon-Thanes as it was laughingly renamed last year, and this tune was very much seen as the anthem for our 'manor'). At the other end of the scale in this edition, we had that ultra-boring Pointer Sisterzzzz' song and the slappable bongo player in Two Man Group, who featured more than two men!

  9. Make that Staines-Upon-Thames. Definitely needed my glasses or to check the spelling properly! Liked the way Jean-Marie Carroll had his "That's Right" catchphrase on the reverse of his guitar.

  10. Re Sound Of The Suburbs. I have yet to find a CD version of the track with the Staines announcement (track just has the instrumental guitar riff). Suggests it was dubbed on the track.

  11. Try here:

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  13. I remember someone 'doing' Sally Oldfield on Stars in Their Eyes once. A decent enough performance as I recall, but just pictured the audience giveing a collecive shrug and going "Huh? Who? Whatever, here's a round applause"

    Mind you. my favourite conversation on that show went something like:

    Matthew: The person you're going to be isn't exactly famous is he?

    Gent: No, but I'm hoping people will remember the song.

    Matthew: So who are you going to be?

    Gent: Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be Marcel Kapteijn of Ten Sharp!

    Don't think he won, you know.

  14. Reminds me when Harry Hill had a go at being Morrissey. An energetic performance, but he probably sounded closer to Neil Morrissey!

  15. catch-up time again: hopefully i'll be up to date by the time the next show is featured...

    mike read: still clearly uncomfortable in this role, even when bigging up the members - after he hit the gong there was a hesitation that sounded like he was regretting now it as he might get into hot water with the bbc brass for such unruly behaviour...

    nazareth: any ex-bmw owners watching this in retrospect (although i suspect there were not that many) may be relieved that nazareth were never that big... or they might have found their car badges missing the following morning a la beastie boys and volkswagons. it looks like zal cleminson (now in mufti) has traded one granite-hewn and granite-voiced scot for another - you could probably get alex harvey and dan mccafferty to switch places and the difference would hardly be noticed! also, was mr mccafferty called away from the links at short notice to perform? it looks like he forgot to remove the spare golf ball that he carried around in his pocket...

    the members: i never realised that highly respected character actor warren clarke briefly tried his luck with a short-lived punk band, masquerading under the alias of "nicky tesco". one of the better acts of that type to appear on the show, although that's not saying much...

    ufo: despite his long hair, singer phil mogg never really had the rock star look of his bass-playing colleague pete way (who rather amusingly later formed his own band called "waysted"). going by this performance he never really had the voice either... sadly i remember knowing all the band members' names without hardly ever hearing their music, simply because they seemed to appear in sounds magazine virtually every week - another one of them was (also quite amusingly) called paul raymond... i used to put on some discos back then, and the metalheads present would always demand the full-length version of "rock bottom" to headbang to - it seemed blistering at the time (especially michael schenker's guitar solo) but when i listened to it much more recently for old-time's sake it sounded really small and tame...

    2 man sound: one of the greatest-ever disco tracks in my view. even though the 12" version is over 8 minutes-worth of the same riff i never tire of listening to it, and even wish the keyboard solo wouldn't fade out at the end! can't say this totp version was anywhere near as mesmeric though, and i was also somewhat distracted from watching my probable 2 favourite legs dancers by worrying that mr slightly-mad's antics were going to send his congas clattering...

    generation x: maybe it's because i have some familiarity with it, but this is a bit better than their other totp appearances. sneering king billy is always watchable, and i like the way tony james grins to someone in the (rather sparse) audience after he's mimed some backing vocals. however, a negative mark to the drummer for his stick-twirling, something drummers in any self-respecting punk bands (other than blondie) should never do...

    the pointer sisters: the one on the left had the best hampsteads, but also the worst hobsons: whatever possessed her to try and become the female equivalent of barry white? i hope for her sake it sounded a bit better on the original recording...

    mike read (again): he seems determined to get his hands on every musical instrument on the set, probably just so he could tell anyone who would listen that he played on top of the pops (i don't think he ever managed to appear as a bonafide performer, despite his obvious desire to do so)! did anyone else notice the guy sitting behind him with his head in his hands in mock-despair as he introduced the number one? presumably mr read was in on the joke, but then again as he's so po-faced you can't tell...

  16. I'm currently one week behind at the moment, should be up to date by the end of next week :o)

    A right old mess in the top left of the screen on iPlayer, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I'll have to admit that the long-haired stuff (Nazareth and UFO) would have passed me by at the time and I can remember being lukewarm to Sound Of The Suburbs, but I think it's just ace now!

    A little bit about this song (Arthur, you probably already know), it's about Camberley, hence the references to 'Heathrow jets' and 'Broadmoor siren'. The lady doing the station announcement on the single version (this performance finishes just before it, and I have it on an Old Gold compilation CD released in 1991) is Angela Peberdy, who could be heard all over the BR Southern region back then on their recorded announcement systems. Presumably Camberley, being a small station, didn't have loudspeakers, so they had to use Staines instead. As for the lead singer, I can only assume that naming yourself after a supermarket was considered cool at the time.

    Mike Read mentions that this was in transparent vinyl. Well, my copy isn't but I do have both Milk And Alcohol and Into The Valley on white vinyl. It appears that 1979 was the time when coloured singles started to become fashionable. In fact, when the 45 was first introduced in 1949 the idea was that it would be colour-coded by genre, but this never caught on.

    I can remember the topic of conversation at school around this time was Billy Idol 'forgetting to sing'. No evidence of it here, but his lip-syncing is 'vague', to say the least.

    And a very peculiar link into the Number 1. Was that Blondie bassist Nigel Harrison with his head in his hands by any chance?

  17. @jeq


    Yes, It was the 'Staines' version.

  18. Just love the Driver 67 song. It's just so simple and sing-a-long, and has such a great storyline.
    I guess it's any taxi driver's shock when they get a job for a pick-up address of an ex-girlfriend.