Thursday, 27 March 2014

Something's Cookin' in the Top of the Pops Kitchen

Whilst the nuclear power plant on Three Mile Island was busy melting down, and Jim Callaghan was losing his vote of no confidence in Parliament, ITV was showing:

6.35 Crossroads 7.00 The Bionic Woman 8.00 Robin's Nest 8.30 TV Eye 9.00 The Streets Of San Francisco 10.00 News At Ten

Whereas on BBC1:  6.20 Nationwide 6.55 Tomorrow's World 7.20 Top of the Pops 7.55 Blankety Blank 8.30 Potter  9.00 News 9.25 The Good Old Days

(with thanks as always to @TV30YearsAgo)

29-3-79: Presenter: Mike Read

(6) CHIC – I Want Your Love (and charts)
(34) RACEY – Some Girls
(30) THE THREE DEGREES – The Runner (video)
(42) ROCKY SHARPE & THE REPLAYS – Imagination
(28) NEIL DIAMOND – Forever In Blue Jeans (danced to by Legs & Co)
(60) GONZALEZ – I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet
(19) ART GARFUNKEL – Bright Eyes (video)
(69) DANA – Something’s Cookin’ In The Kitchen
(70) SHOWADDYWADDY – Remember Then
(25) SISTER SLEDGE – He’s The Greatest Dancer (video)
(45) KANDIDATE – I Don’t Wanna Lose You
(64) BLACK LACE – Mary Ann ®
(1) GLORIA GAYNOR – I Will Survive (video)
(26) THE JACKSONS – Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) (and credits)

Chic ~ provide the chart rundown song this week, still on its way up the charts.

Racey ~ 'Why do they always get to dance with Legs & Co' notices our host Mike Read as Racey are joined on stage by no less than four of them for this Nicky Chinn/Mike Chapman smash, Some Girls.

The Three Degrees ~ sounding very Donna Summer, perhaps not too surprisingly as this was produced by Giorgio Moroder.

Rocky Sharpe and the Replays ~ Darts lite return but this time with not such a big hit, their cover of Imagination only made it to 39 in the charts.

Neil Diamond ~ Legs & Co are all hidden beneath huge Liberace cloaks at first but then throw them off to reveal an assortment of blue denim outfits.

Gonzalez ~ this catchy number was cut from the 7.30 show, but fear not, it hasn't stopped climbing up the charts yet.

Art Garfunkel ~ not a good sign that this one was also cut from the 7.30 show, will this be Grease all over again....... (find out at 1.25 tonight!)

Dana ~ this one didn't quite have all the ingredients to be a top 40 hit, peaking at number 44.

Showaddywaddy ~ the double take boys are back but their best days were behind them now, Remember Then reached number 17. It was a cover of a 1962 song by The Earls.

Sister Sledge ~ another classic disco tune from Chic's Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, who also played on and produced this record.

Kandidate ~ featuring Phil Fearon on guitar, I Don't Want to Lose You finished up being found at number 11.

Black Lace ~ a very short clip of the UKs 1979 Eurovision entry before they flew over to Israel to land 7th place.

Gloria Gaynor ~ this is her penultimate week at number 1.

The Jacksons ~ shake our bodies down over the credits this week, with no rival Mick Jackson anywhere in sight.

Next week it's the 5th April 1979 with Tony Blackburn hosting for what I think is his one and only time this year.


  1. I would have felt mighty deflated having watched this show as a teenager, and it wasn't any better this time round. Not one single punk or new wave act, and a show dripping in MOR, cardboard disco (with the exception of Sister Sledge) and retro. For me, this was the worst edition in the re-run thus far. Even now, the only songs I really enjoyed were The Three Degrees (another song where the title isn't in the lyrics - the gals sing "a runner" but not "the runner") and Dana with a clever allegorical song with kitchen / cooking references which even gives a futuristic mention of a microwave, but no description of a bun in the oven! Art Garfunkel's effort has to be one of the most depressing chart toppers ever, along with that hideous cover of "Mad World". I much preferred it when that tone-deaf young kid had a go at "Bright Eyes" on "Tiswas".

    Black Lace must hold the record for the lowest chart position for a song's second TOTP appearance. It shows the complete apathy we had in this Eurovision entry that it was only at 64 at this stage and didn't even make the top 40, whereas Brotherhood Of Man (remember them?) were already at number one with "Save Your Kisses For Me" before they won the event. "Mary Ann" was controversial within and without the band, firstly because Smokie's publishers tried to sue for plagiarism of "Oh Carol" (and failed), and secondly because future Smokie lead singer Alan Barton wasn't actually Black Lace's singer but the songwriters wanted a smoky (geddit?) vocal for the song and it hacked the usual lead usual singer off big time.

    PS - I think the next edition is Tone's swansong and, as you all probably know, Richard O'Sulllivan not only starred in "Robin's Nest" with Tone's ex-wife (enough time to change channels and see the bygone Gwyneth and Chris in quick succession), but he wrote the show's theme tune.

  2. i will be watching this week's show at the first available opportunity and will no doubt contribute comments accordingly, but for now some musing on the telly stuff that was on offer that night:

    itv 4 has recently re-run both "man about the house" and "george and mildred" in their entirety, but still no sign of "robin's nest" (even if it was the weakest of the three). "the streets of san francisco" had finished at least 2 years earlier, so why was it still getting prime-time here? about 10 years ago channel 5 showed every episode on weekday mornings (along with starsky and hutch) which helped me really get back into the 70's again. michael douglas may have had help in getting his role (dad kirk and co-star karl malden were old buddies of russian-jewish descent), but it was evident he already had the charisma that has made him the superstar he is today. whereas in contrast, leonard sachs who was the extravagant master of ceremonies for "the good old days" soon headed for obscurity, no doubt in part for being caught "importuning"...

    sadly angelo doesn't seem to be able to tell us what was on bbc 2 that night (which as the "minority" channel often had more interesting programmes than those on the mainstream channels). to my recollection "butterflies" was on around this time, and "MASH" was still going (the latter is now being shown every weekday on the "true entertainment" channel on freeview)...

    1. Might have been the Richard Hatch season of TSoSF ITV were showing, in which case by public demand I like to think they were repeating the unforgettable Arnold Schwarzenegger episode. More TV shows should have everyone laughing just before the end credits, there was this, Scooby-Doo, er...

    2. i remember seeing arnie when i watched those SOSF re-runs - he played (wait for it)... an austrian bodybuilder!

  3. There was a great story some years back about Michael Douglas (son of "Spartacus" actor Kirk) being paged in a restaurant and he made himself known, at which point another diner got up in "Spartacus" style and said "I'm Michael Douglas", and then another did, and another...

  4. Mr Racey from Racey must have been a real shortarse, even Lulu was towering over him. Could anyone make out what he had on his lapel badge that he was so keen for us to read?

    The Giorgio production on the Three Degrees disco tunes is great, I think, and I like this just as much as Giving Up Giving In (which is similar). One of the highlights.

    I actually remember the Rocky Sharpe song really well, dunno why because it wasn't a big hit and I haven't heard it from then till now but it used to go round in my head when I was little. Same with the Showaddywaddy track, a bigger hit I suppose but not one which springs to most people's minds when they think of them.

    Legs & Co were ludicrously literal this week, and that's saying something. A denim ballgown?! Plus a representation of the six ages of, er, woman, then goosestepping to fade. Class.

    I think there were more members of Gonzalez than the rest of the bands combined. Anyway, Dana's single is another I strongly recall, no idea why, maybe it was because of the ridiculous backing vocals. Disco Dana never really caught on, Sheena Easton might have stolen her thunder.

    Sister Sledge famously didn't much like their work with Chic because they felt they were elbowed out of the creative process to become basically replacement Chic singers. Look at how uncomfortable Kathy looks when she has to sing "Please take me home" - she hated that line. Sounds a hell of a lot better than Hey Frankie, though.

    Kandidate, nice enough, biggest revelation was that the backing singers were blokes.

    Hmm, no Bright Eyes. Was Art on a BBC variety show they can borrow a clip from around this time? We'll find out I suppose.

    1. Interesting in that Chic & Sister Sledge are on a combined double album CD of their greatest hits. I bought this combined CD a few years back, instead of buying each CD separately. Interesting in that there were on this same TOTP show some years earlier before the CD was released.

  5. host: mr read (i can't really bring myself to call him mike) seems a bit more enthusiastic than his last appearance, but he still seems like a fish out of water to me

    racey: i read arthur's comments before watching this, so was prepared for "mr racey" to be dwarfed by legs & co. it still looked a bit ridiculous though, especially with the tallest members (rosie and gill) at the front. i don't know if this still applies to the youth of today, but back then social etiquette dictated that boys should not step out with girls who were a: older than them, and b: taller than them. even now when i see the likes of mick jagger and rod stewart with some taller, younger leggy blonde model on their arm, i can't help thinking in mrs merton style "what attracted you to the millionaire superannuated shortarse rock star...?"

    the three degrees: better than "giving up, giving in" but nothing to write home about - i've forgotten it already. apparently the "other two" are still performing, although i don't know if one or either took sheila ferguson's place, or they got themselves a sheila clone...

    rocky sharpe and the replays: apparently mike vernon and pete wingfield of the olympic runners were involved in this, which is as far from funky disco you can get. why? presumably they saw it as an opportunity to cash in on the "grease" craze... is that kevin rowland on lead vocals? the guy's hairline looks the same as when kev suited up for the flop album "don't stand me down". also, to my recollection the lady singer was called helen highwater - her given name perchance?

    neil diamond: whatever appeal this guy has it certainly escapes me. but then again i'm not a middle-class female baby boomer...

    gonzalez: their unfeasibly large line up reminds me of the "never mind the buzzcocks" thing where the critical tie-break question relating to footage of earth wind & fire and the emotions (hopefully soon to be seen!) was: "how many people are on stage?"... i remember some folkie-type band that was on a couple of years ago that had a similar amount of personel, but gonzalez may have edged it here. the guy who looks like an oriental version of cliff richard was called lenny zakatek - that wasn't his given name either, but in his case it was apparently bestowed on him by lynsey de paul to make him sound more exotic(although it probably hindered his chances of having any real success). what were the two black guys and female singer doing there with him, other than obscuring the rest of the band? presumably everyone now knows that the music was written by gloria jones, aka mrs marc bolan? as far as i'm concerned this firmly falls into arthur's "cardboard disco" category, and is one of the worst disco records of all time! sadly gonzalez weren't just a faceless disco aggregation, but actually had previous form as a pretty good jazz-funk and latin outfit. however due to their previous lack of success, most members had to scratch a living playing on other people's records as sessioneers...

    art garfunkel: can't say i'm gutted to miss this - would care not a jot if i never heard it in my life again. i can't even remember the verse now, only the line "bright eyes, burning like fire"... and have no wish to be reminded. i remember reading the book it was inspired by at the time ("watership down") - it was highly popular back then, but somehow i can't see the concept of rabbits interacting with each other as if they were humans having much appeal these days...

    1. I remember the answer to that EW&F "Buzzcocks" question - it was 13!

  6. ... after the last show's abberation it's another two-parter!

    dana: i too noticed the mention of microwaves - we certainly had no such thing in our household at the time, nor remembering seeing one in anybody else's. i also noticed the use of the famous paul newman allegory "why go out for a burger when you can have steak at home?". musically this went in one ear and out the other - if it was a gonzalez-style attempt to leap on the disco bandwagon then it wasn't a very effective one...

    showadddywaddy: whatever you think of this lot, at least unlike previous acts they ignored the temptation to make a fast buck in the disco market, instead sticking to their usual schtick of karoake-style covers of old doo wop tunes - maybe they thought they would get more mileage out of it thanks to the grease phenomenon?. however the idea of showaddywaddy going disco does have some strange kind of appeal...

    sister sledge: further to arthur's comments, all the backing vocals were done by the usual chic crew of alfa anderson et al rather than the sisters themselves. so at least two of them had nothing to do with the recording, including the one who as someone memorably once said looks like a llama! apart from pulling the short straw in the looks department, i noticed she wasn't exactly the greatest dancer either...

    kandidate: although this was a bit too soppy for my taste, i thought it had a couple of clever examples of modulation (that's changes in musical key for the ignorant - yes, i was one of those too at the time this was released). the singer wasn't much cop though was he?

    the jacksons: bad news is that there is early evidence of wacko's vocal tics, but as a disco dancer this was a million miles better than the abysmal "blame it on the boogie". notable for being one of the early recordings featuring a bass line played on a synth as opposed to a bass guitar...

    mark: 5/10

    1. Showaddywaddy going disco - would that have sounded perilously close to the dreaded Jive Bunny?

  7. An ok a 'nothing great-nothing terrible' episode - only hit fast forward once.
    Surprised Racey had top-selling Rak single of all time given Hot Chocolate was on Rak...
    Imagination sounded like a mash up of rama-lama-ding-dong and the Benny Hill theme...
    I couldn't hear the girl in Gonzalez - she was putting lots of effort in, but not to much avail...
    Don't remember the Dana song at all - quite enjoyed it.
    ...and I had forgotten how schoolboy the lyrics to Greatest Dancer were

  8. Okay, I’ve been lazy so far this week, so here goes…

    Please give Violinski’s drummer some trousers and get them to redo their rundown photo!

    I think the badge on Racey’s singer’s lapel said “I’m a prick”. If it didn’t, it should’ve done.

    Thrifty re-use by The Three Degrees of their last hit’s outfits, but a real shock as (gasp) Valerie and Helen change places! The current lead vocalist in the still-going Degrees is a woman called Freddie Pool. No, me neither.

    Rosie made a fantastic Bunny Girl, and normally I’d wretch at the sight of an ’elderly’ lady in a skirt split way up the front, but I’ll let Patti off!

    Gonzalez’ effort reminded me of The World Disco Dancing Championships on ITV, hosted by that disco afficionado, Simon Bates. Yes, really!

    Dana gave great face, but what they thinking of with the set design?

    Jive Waddy lurch out of their car park trailer with no less than five vocalists, only just outdoing Kandidate featuring the slappable king of cardboard disco, Phil Fearon.

    62 seconds of Black Lace. That really shows how apathetic everyone was about our Eurovision entry that year. It was still 62 seconds too much, mind you.

  9. arthur, did you really count the seconds for black lace? as it's sooo fashionable to say these days: that's 62 seconds of your life that you'll never get back...

    1. I cheated and fast-forwarded on BBC iPlayer, checked the timings and only lost ten seconds of my life as a result!

  10. I seem to be very late to the party this week, but it was my birthday this weekend (I'm not revealing my age, though for all you pop pickers, a quiz : Nilsson was at Number One!) so I have an excuse.

    I think the badge on Racey man's suit said 'I love my lapels' given how much he kept bloody grabbing them!
    Tragically, I do actually like this song and it almost marks a point for me when 1979 starts becoming good. The first quarter of the year has some good songs, but from this point on the great start outnumbering the good and bad.

    The Three Degrees - Giorgio Moroder certainly makes them sound much better than usual, but having had to play all their hits endlessly on the radio I can't get excited about any of them.

    Rocky Sharpe & The Replays - Strangely enough I also remember this from the time. Shame it's bloody awful.

    Neil Diamond - Legs outfits for a long time I think. Lulu was always going to be the child, and Sue is far too good at the schoolgirl act for her to be anyone else, but I must have missed the part where the 6 ages of woman includes time as a bunny girl waitress!
    Oh, apparently there was a song going on in the background as well.

    Gonzalez - Disco, crazy, sexy, baby hot! I suspect Charlie Higson may have seen this clip. What awful miming by the way.

    Art Garfunkel - OK, I'll own up. I loved this song as a kid. I still do. If we don't see it when it's Number One, the BBC will make themselves look ridiculous as surely even casual viewers will notice that something is not quite right.
    As for what on earth they're going to do, I have no idea. A split screen of David Walliams as Art Garfunkel from Rock Profile with a rabbit (NB absolutely NOT from the film) on the other side? Someone holding up a flip book to camera to make it look like there are 'jumping bunnies'?

    Dana - 'Fairytale' was absolutely splendid. This one isn't.

    Showaddywaddy - Another fave from my childhood. Although I still like the band, this one hasn't aged as well as some of the others for some reason.

    Sister Sledge - I never knew that they didn't like their Chic work. Clearly completely wrong. Presumably their rundown pic was taken after they recorded this, as they look completely pissed off in it. Pretty much exactly how I look whenever I hear that execrable 'Frankie' drivel!

    Kandidate - Hmmm...worthy but dull. Bring on their next song which is highly amusing and NOT SEXIST AT ALL.

    1. I think THIS is the true source of "Disco Baby Sexy Baby Hot" - a single that was number one in Italy for five weeks in 1979/80. How do I know this stuff? I really should get out more!

    2. By the way, Noax, we'll need to rely on some contraband as Kandidate's "Girls Girls Girls" got one airing on a DLT-fronted TOTP.

  11. That Racey singer looks way too satisfied with himself. A face you could never tire of punching...

    I quite like that Black Lace song. There, said it. I think that year's winners also put in a Totp appearance, don't they?

    (looking at this year's Eurovision runners and riders, there appear to be at least two songs about cake. Bless you Eurovision...)

  12. Is that cake in the sense of "The Day Today" (i.e. the pretend drug Chris Morris got Noel Edmonds to discuss like an April Fool's Joke but not on April 1st)? We should have got Jenny Eclair to sing our entry. Boom boom tish!

    Milk & Honey are on this week - bugger, spoiler time, sorry everyone! - and we miss their repeat on a DLT show, Personally, I much preferred Milk and Alcohol!

  13. Incidentally, if you've been tremendously impressed by Rocky Sharpe and the Replays you'll be glad to know they were still going in 1982 as seen on an episode of post-TISWAS, post-watershed shitefest OTT that someone's uploaded to YouTube. I only noticed because TV Cream mentioned it last week. The band are on near the end if you don't want to be subjected to undiluted Bernard Manning being horrible earlier on (Lenny Henry was sitting right there, Bernard).

  14. Only just watched this (must get mobile iPlayer up and running for when I go away at weekends). A lightweight but enjoyable enough show I thought. Have to admit I've always had a soft spot for the Racey/Rocky Sharpe/Showaddywaddy type stuff.

    I've just looked up when Easter was in 1979 and it was mid-April like this year, but it looks as if the TOTP Orchestra have taken an early holiday. Indeed, the Dana performance struck me as more Kenny Everett Video Show than TOTP.

    Forever In Blue Jeans brings back memories, but from the late '80s/early '90s rather than 1979, when after the first line, "Money talks", our local breakfast DJ would always say "mine stutters"!

    So, no Bright Eyes then! 6 weeks at No. 1 and 4 'broadcastable' shows - get out of that one, BBC!

    1. i say the beeb now have no option but to reform legs and co to dance to "bright eyes"...

  15. Better late than nev3er.

    I like the way the BBC have anticipated wide screen telly by centering the chart rundown titles. Still the same old typefaces though (they were called typefaces in those days before fonts).

    The lead singer of Racey does seem to be in competition with Graham Parker for shortest performer on the show. You can't deny that Racey's tunes are very catchy but there's something rather twee about the drastically underehearsed dance moves which only look worse once Legs and Co arrive on stage. I wonder why they didn't all appear? I suppose its one girl for each band member.

    I remember these Three Degrees disco songs well, The Runner was probably the best but I'm not sure about those silver lame outfits Sheila and co are wearing. Can one shimmy in a maxi skirt without looking like a drag queen?

    Hated this Rocky Sharpe irritatingly catchy song. "Imini-ma-ma-ma-magination" indeed. But it's interesting that the female vocalist sounds almost in a folk idiom in her vocal style while the lead singer proves that he can't quite hit those high notes.

    My dad liked this Neil Diamond song a lot, which he always called Reverend Blue Jeans (he said it before Paul Burnette did), and from this Legs performance I can see why he liked it. The girls seem to be a demin-clad, heterosexual version of The Village People - schoolgirl, toddler in baby doll dress, bunny girl, granny and two others. I suppose this is less obvious than having them in blue jeans but it's all a bit odd.

    Ah the return of Latin disco. That's an impressive line up of session brass players for Gonzales, it's just a shame that on their close up in the instrumental break all we can hear is the percussion. The beardy sax guy on the left is our old friend Alan Holmes, formerly of Sounds Incoporporated, who appeared with the JALN Band last year and famously was the saxophonist on Good Morning on The Beatles' Sgt Pepper and on The Boomtown Rats' Rat Trap.

    This Dana song is hilarious. Disco pop by numbers, with lyrics lifted from a Thesaurus but as noted above an interesting early reference to microwave cooking. Is that Clarke Peters supplying the bass backing vocals?

    It would have been interesting to witness Showaddywaddy and Rock Sharpe in the Green Room, did they like or hate each other? We shall never know. I see that the band did their usual trick of recording two takes and editing them together creating a video effect.

    Kandidate borrowing a lot from Heatwave and a lot The Chi-Lites' Have You Seen Her? Nice tune though.

    Why is My Creed dressed as a sailor. Do we ever find out?

    We saw just enough of Black Lace to witness the bass players dancing tie again and over to Gloria and The Jacksons.

    1. clarke peters! i'm currently watching him playing a baddie in the ace crime drama series "person of interest"...

    2. Mrs Replay sounded like Jane from Rod, Jane and Freddy to me. Ever seen them together in the same room? Thought not.

  16. Racey: Good follow up to Lay Your Love on me which stayed forever at No.3 in January. In Some Girls, this TOTP performance with Legs & Co was a good start to the show, cos no-one could see it coming, and so it set up the rest of the show very nicely. Some girls, some show.

    Gonzalez: can't believe how this was cut from the 7.30pm show. It was may favourite of this show, along with Racey. I just love the latin, happy colours and outfits, and the music swings well too. Where's that dance floor, I'm coming!

    Art Garfunkel: I remember as an 11-year old when this show was first shown, that the song was just a cartoon clip of rabbits interacting with each other, and it was too sad, and I preferred something fun and catchy and fancy after Gloria Gaynor's end of her No.1 reign this week.

    Showaddywaddy: The beginning of the end for them, as this only made No.17, and I think their first one not to reach the top ten in three years, so they, as well as Darts, by now were finding that their Do Wop sounds were no longer fashionable, and were about to make way for Disco, Blondie and Ska which were becoming more of a trend as the 70s were drawing to a close.

    1. the rock 'n' roll revival soon got up another head of steam in the early 80's with a new generation: stray cats, polecats, coast to coast, shakin' pyramids et al. in fact it lasted well into the 80's... it was never my cup of tea and i couldn't understand the interest in that bygone era when there was so much great new music around, but i suppose even then some people thought contemporary pop was rubbish!