Thursday, 6 March 2014

Top of the Pops 1979 is Something Else

This edition of Top of the Pops was moved from its regular Thursday slot to Friday, to make way for  A Song for Europe, where the UKs Eurovision song contest song was chosen, and this year the winners were.......... Black Lace! And they will be on the very next show.

So what else was on the telly this Friday night? .......

Well, ITV offered: 7.00 The Muppet Show 7.30 Sale Of The Century 8.00 Flambards 9.00 House Of Caradus 10.00 News 10.30 Soap

Whilst on BBC1: 6.20 Nationwide 7.00 Wonder Woman 7.50 Top of the Pops 8.30 The Other One 9.00 News 9.25 Petrocelli

Meanwhile, on the front cover of Smash Hits this week......

And so on Top of the Pops we had:

9-3-79: Presenter: David Jensen

(19) HERBIE HANCOCK – You Bet Your Love (and charts)
(46) INNER CIRCLE – Everything Is Great
(7) THE SEX PISTOLS – Something Else (danced to by Legs & Co)
(44) BUZZCOCKS – Everybody’s Happy Nowadays
(26) DENNIS BROWN – Money In My Pocket
(47) LATE SHOW – Bristol Stomp
(5) THE REAL THING – Can You Feel The Force
(27) THE DOOLEYS – Honey I’m Lost
(63) MOTÖRHEAD – Overkill
(11) GENE CHANDLER – Get Down (footage from Soul Train 20-1-79)
(66) LEYTON BUZZARDS – Saturday Night (Beneath The Plastic Palm Trees)
(1) THE BEE GEES – Tragedy (danced to by Legs & Co) ®
(14) GARY’S GANG – Keep On Dancin’ (and credits)

Herbie Hancock ~ plays over the credits this week with another top 20 hit for him to follow up last year's I Thought it Was You.

Inner Circle ~ Everything wasn't so great for this one, it peaked at 37. Then they had to wait 13 long years for their next chart hit - Sweat, which did much better making it to number 3.

Elvis Costello ~ another repeat showing (third time?) of this sweaty classic.

The Sex Pistols ~ Something Else was the radio friendly song of this double A side, but everyone was really buying it for the not so radio friendly track on the other side. I remember the kids at my school in some kind of frenzy over Friggin in the Riggin, and then hearing it for the first time at a friend's house, once his parents were safely out of earshot in the kitchen! And as for this unmissable multi-coloured punk routine from Legs and Co, well it truly was.......... something else!

Buzzcocks ~ all clad in leather jackets this time and it looks like singer Pete Shelley had let his hair grow a bit too - this catchy number just scraped into the top 30 at 29.

Dennis Brown ~ reggae was getting to be a very popular flavour now in the UK charts - this tune made it to number 14 though it was to be Dennis's only top 40 hit.

Late Show ~ never seen this act before - first impression is a manic mix of Racey and Rocky Sharpe. The song refers to Bristol in Philadelphia, rather than Somerset, and it peaked at 40.

The Real Thing ~ made a much better job of getting the Top of the Pops audience excited than did the previous act - and no wonder with a song as good as this, which went on to reach number 5 in the charts.
Cliff Richard ~ got the red light and was edited out of the 7.30 show. This song got quite a lot of airplay at the time but flopped at number 57 ~ however his next single would become one of the smashes of the year.......

The Dooleys ~ were also lost from the 7.30 show, and again bigger things were soon to come......

Motorhead ~ a bit of editing out overkill going on here now......

Gene Chandler ~ also got downed from 7.30 - but you can still see all these performances in the unedited screening at 12.30 tonight on BBC4 - the channel that lived.

Leyton Buzzards ~ won The Sun/Radio 1 competition (?) but this song was a number 53 flop. However, singer Geoff Deane & bass player David Jaymes had huge success in the early 1980's with a very different sound as members of salsa sensations Modern Romance.

The Bee Gees ~ at number one for the second and final week, though Kid Jensen seems to think it's been much longer than that, and they still can't make it into the studio or send a video, so we get to see Legs and Co clowning about again ~ did Patti look a wee bit wobbly on that chair? :-)

Gary's Gang ~ play us out over the credits.

Next week, it's our monthly Sky at Night treat, so Top of the Pops returns in two week's time with the edition from 15th March 1979 presented by Peter Powell.


  1. Erm, Bristol was traditionally in Gloucestershire.

    A rarity back in the day, a Friday edition of TOTP, allowing room on the Thursday for live coverage of “A Song For Europe”…er, maybe not. Damn striking technicians! The Nolans were favourites with “Harry My Honolulu Lover”, written by CoCo main man Terry Bradford but, as a result of the strike and TV blackout, the songs were judged by audio only and The Skids’ favourites only came fourth, a long way behind Smokie copyists Black Lace. If only the judges had vision as well, they’d have seen what they’d done!

    A weird show, this. No less than six acts outside the top 40 and, despite their coverage, only one managed to scrape into the top 30, three just about made the top 40 and the other two languished in the 50’s. Great success rate there!

    The curse of mainstream Light Entertainment strikes again! A top 75 to choose from for the show, and Cliff still gets a non-chart new release spot despite his last (sublime) single stiffing completely.

    Back over the weekend once I’ve seen the whole show.

  2. my video recorder has packed up, so i've had to watch this week's show in "real time" for a change...albeit the late (almost) uncut edition (i had to set my alarm clock!)... apart from the drawback of having to sit through stuff i would usually have fast-forwarded (although only elvis costello and the bee gees/legs routine fell into that category this week), i was also forced to watch in 4:3 ratio which took a bit of getting used to...

    host: the kid just can't put a foot wrong can he? authoritive and yet enthusiastic at the same time. he should have been in charge every week really (although i would still have liked to have seen peter powell as co-host)

    herbie hancock: i loved "i thought it was you", but this really is sugar-coated disco dross, girlie vocals and all. his original fans must have dispaired of him, but i suppose he'd say that being a cool jazzer never paid the rent. i know he was seen to have some kind of renaissance with "rockit", but i hated that even more than this with its simple motif that new orders' keyboard player could play without the aid of sticky tape, never mind the finest jazz pianist of his generation. when he did it live on "the tube" i was really hoping he'd mess it up!

    inner circle: i thought this lot were a reggae band, so i was somewhat surprised at their full-out attempt at disco (which was neither particularly good or bad). i noticed that they had the henchman whisper from "live and let die" on guitar...

    elvis costello: is it me or does there always seem to be a distinct lack of guitar on his recordings?

    sex pistols: like the bee gees clown outfits, i couldn't tell who most of legs were. pauline was relatively easy to spot as she had some kind of solo part at the beginning (although even she looked remarkably different in a silver syrup), and i think i identified patti with the short pink one at the end. rather disturbingly i have to ask myself: had i been able to record it, would i have watched it again just to see who was who?

    (the) buzzcocks: yes, three punk/new wave tracks in a row! one of their better ones although no "ever fallen in love". i liked the biker jackets though - it was just becoming cool to own one without actually owning a motorbike to go with it. however, my leather jacket of choice at the time was the "blouson" style with the elasticated bottom, as favoured by bodie and doyle of "the professionals" - someone told me a looked a bit like the former, which i took as a compliment at the time!

    dennis brown: reggae is not really my field of expertise, but apparently dennis brown was the JA superstar that hadn't sold out and become an "uncle tom" (yes bob marley, i'm referring to you!). a pleasant enough ditty (is that what they call lovers' rock?) but nothing to get excited over...

    the late show: the only reason i can think why this note-for-note cover of an old rock 'n' roll tune was done was to cash-in on the success of "happy days". otherwise it seems completely redundant (talking of "happy days", if someone went to a television network today with an idea for a show that featured an older single guy into leather and motorbikes who hung around with schoolkids, i think somehow they might get shown the door... if not reported to the yewtree squad!). and what was the point of the air-violin player? having dug around for more info on these non-entities, i have discovered that they entitled their only album "snap!" years before the modfather did likewise. however, i couldn't get confirmation that the fiddle-scraper was bobby valentino, who was overlooked in last week's list of rock violinists (his main claim to fame was playing on the bluebell's "young at heart"... and having a sideline as a clark gable lookalike!)

  3. here it comes... part II!

    the real thing: yes! yes! yes! i loved this the first time i heard this (despite being somewhat cool on them prior to that), and remember loving it each time i heard it on the radio (and boogieing on down when it was played at discos). i also owned the translucent lime-green 12" vinyl pressing... and it still sounds good today. with regard to this appearance, it seems a bit odd that singer chris amoo is shoehorned in at the end whilst eddie takes centre stage with his guitar. this also makes the non-amoos look even more like spare pricks at a wedding then usual - someone should have given them some shakers and a tambourine as props...

    cliff richard: blimey, this latest effort is actually listenable! in fact almost funky by his standards (but not so funky that i would seek it out)...

    the dooleys: i even kept the sound on for this! i must be getting soft in my old age (although more likely it was because i couldn't keep my eyes open)

    motorhead: although it's nice to see them in the studio, sadly this effort sounds like a failed try-out for the classic "ace of spades". lemmy once wrote a song called "jailbait" whose lyrics included the line "jailbait, and i just can't wait".. and yet there has been no sign of him joining DLT in getting the knock at dawn from the bottom inspectors (sorry, the yewtree squad) and going up before the beak (just an observation on the hypocrisy of it all...)

    gene chandler: where was gene? unless i had temporarily fallen asleep, there was no sign of him...

    leyton buzzards: this was sort-of cod-reggae meets new-wave, and definitely fell between those two stools - awful! and the mockney vocals didn't help either. funnily enough they were dropped when the singer got himself a wedge haircut, spiv tache and baggy pastel suit, and successfully persuaded the nation in its ignorance that his (renamed) band were now purveyors of the exotic salsa sound, when in reality it was clunky white-boy dance music with a few bongos thrown in. shamefully that included my naive self at the time, but at least unlike many i soon realised how vacuous it was!

    1. Having checked the wonderful 45cat website, it seems The Leyton Buzzards moved after three singles on Chrysalis to WEA, did a cover of "Can't Get Used To Losing You" (the same song that Andy Williams and The Beat had hits with), and then packed it in, whereby Modern Romance got signed to the same label.

    2. the band that was supposed to spearhead the gloriously hip new-romantics-meets-latin sound was blue rondo a la turk, but those upstarts modern romance (presumably having got wind of it) got there first with their poundland version... and in doing so killed the whole thing off as a credible scene practically before it even got started!

    3. It's a good job that the Yewtree police are not fans of '70s music, otherwise we'd be left with something smaller than a commercial station playlist... After all, pop music has always been about young love, in its various permutations, and some lyricists were less subtle than others. The Drifters' Kissin' In The Back Row Of The Movies is a dead dodgy one that springs immediately to mind.

  4. oh, i forgot to "mark" the show - one of the best so far: 8/10

  5. You're right that Elvis Costello's tracks tended to have his guitar low in the mix. Elvis was a good rhyhm guitarist but not a lead guitarist in any sense, and he probably let Steve Nieve's keyboards take closer to centre stage.

    As for The Leyton Buzzards, I much preferred their flop follow-up "We Make A Noise", by which time they'd lost the 'Leyton' part of their name. Couldn't stand Modern Romance.

  6. Were Inner Circle's croonings the inspiration for Everything is Awesome from The Lego Movie? Of course they were, silly question.

    The Late Show looked to be taking colour co-ordination tips from Legs & Co, that 50s revival of the 70s went on a long time, didn't it? Right up to Shakin' Stevens.

    As for ver Legs, this is the kind of absurdity that's the icing on the cake for these repeats. Do they dance to Motorhead next time? Speaking of which, because all you hear of them is Ace of Spades it's easy to forget all their records sound the bloody same, as shown here. The noncommittal audience was pretty funny considering Lemmy and his amazing friends going all out to impress.

    The Leyton Buzzards, ah, the old rule on writing about what you know in full effect there. Not sure if he was channelling Sham 69 or Chas and Dave.

    Was that Mike Read on keyboards for The Dooleys? Dennis Brown's bongo man wasn't exactly throwing himself into the task, was he? The Real Thing's equivalent was much more like it.

  7. Mightily surprised by Inner Circle, the reggae Real T’ing! Fine audience participation in the chorus. Anyone else spot Kid chatting to a girl on the far stage during the instrumental bit?

    Hey lookee there! A 50’s-style dance routine for a punk rehash. I’d have preferred The Leggers with Mohican wigs and some safety pins and some punk-style bondage gear. Now then now then!

    Buzzcocks, aka the Three Fonzes with a Mike Read impersonator on drums. Unusual to see Pete without an axe. Nice touch by the Beeb getting the Z’s the right dimension in the band’s lit-up logo.

    Cool mellow groove from Dennis Brown. How his band would have loved a stage the size of that one wasted on the Leyton Buzzards!

    How can a pistol be sharp? The Late Show’s violinist obviously wanted to steal the show but he looked like a strawberry Nesquik.

    Shame The Real Thing’s guitarist’s single-promoting T-shirt was concealed by his jacket and instrument, unlike Chris’s self-promoting chest!

    The intro to “Honey I’m Lost” reminded me of “Just Got Lucky” by JoBoxers. Loved the gals’ Dooleys Airlines hats and garb. Isn’t it time the bassist gave The Rubettes their cap back?

    Never seen Phil “Animal” Taylor smile before. Now, that’s a real drummer’s set-up – double bass drums. No, no, I mean two bass drums, not drums made out of double basses!

    Poor old Gene Chandler got the chop from the schedule. I’d have much preferred him to Cliff’s plodathon (no green light from me) or The Buzzards’ awful effort. If they won that competition, what the hell were the rest of the contestants like? All that effort on the décor wasted on one of the worst songs of the re-run so far…and to think I thought Modern Romance were bad enough!

    1. in my view the double kick-drum thing is very much for show than serving any real purpose - i played drums in a band for a while and never lamented the fact that i had no second one to use... unlike the time i gigged using someone else's kit that only had one cymbal that i had to use as both crash and ride! also most drummers need to keep one foot on the hi-hat pedal most of the time, so unless you're jake the peg a second kick drum is as useful as the proverbial spare prick at a wedding (and it's bad enough having to lug one about, never mind two)...

      talking of jake the peg (and his extra leg), did the yewtree prosecutors in rolf's trial use that song as evidence?

    2. It was Keith Moon who started this double bass drum thing wasn't it? And did he ever actually play both of them together?

    3. A strawberry Nesquik - ha, ha! You're a legend, Arthur! I really liked Late Show and thought they had a lot of promise - but they were signed to Decca Records, which was disintegrating by then and would soon be swallowed by Polygram (now Universal), so they probably weren't afforded as much promotion as they deserved.

  8. A show of positive thought and optimism - Everything Is Great - Everybody's Happy Nowadays - Green Light - and squeezing big bands on tiny stages. Plus it was leather trousers last time, this time its leather jackets, I counted no less than 8.

    This is the second time Herbie Hancock has not turned up or sent a video, thank god he scored the third time with the memorable video for Rockit, although those robots would have suited his vocoder vocals very well here.

    Everything Is Great starts off well but doesn't really go anywhere and it's easy to see why it wasn't a big hit. Impressive live vocals though by Jacob Miller. I like the name Inner Circle as it reminds me of visiting my nan who used to live near Regents Park in London and as kids my brother and I would often go with her to the Inner Circle where London Zoo is.

    The crowd show their contempt for Malcolm Mclaren's shameless cash-in and for Legs and Co for joining in, by not dancing or clapping. Didn't stop it from getting to number 3.

    I loved all The Buzzcocks singles but didn't buy any of them until a few years later and I always assumed they had done better chart-wise than they actually did. It amazes me now seeing just how defiantly camp Pete Shelley was in his vocal delivery.

    Why are Dennis Brown and the boys crowded on such a small stage, they should have swapped with The Buzzcocks? I loved Money In My Pocket and later bought the original version as well. Dennis Brown has one of the best voices in reggae and should have gone on to have a string of hits on the strength of this but as is so typical with regggae back then it was treated almost as a novelty.

    I remember The Late Show very well it was played a lot on the radio and that it was a cover of a song by The Dovells. Their earlier singles were produced by Terry Melcher. They look awful though being a cross between Darts and Racey, right down to the short arse lead singer in high waisted pleated trousers and the violinist looks out of place in his pink panther outfit.

    The Real Thing live up to their name by presenting a superb funky disco song but again why are they given so little space to do their thing? This is heaps better than last years lame Let's Go Disco, here they don't sing about disco they ARE disco.

    I remember Cliff's Green Light well and thought it charted but oddly it didn't. This is a video rather than a studio performance but with Cliff it's hard to say because until Wired For Sound all his videos were the same.

    The Dooleys look like their getting to ready to leave immediately after their performance because their bus is due. Must have been a cold March that year as they're all in hats and scarves. The bridge of the chorus' borrows a lot from the classic That Old Black Magic but it's a nice catchy song.

    Whoever decided to follow The Dooleys with Motorhead was having a laugh. Is that girl in Kid's intro wearing that bullet belt because she's a Motorhead fan or was it plonked on her for the link?

    Here's the missing footage of Gene Chandler from Soul Train:

    The Leyton Buzzards song is almost a blueprint for The Specials' Friday Night and Saturday Morning and as well as name checking Eddie Holman it also name checks Guns Of Navarone which The Specials did as part of their live act (it's on the B-side of Too Much Too Young). This is a bit too much up its own arse to be a big hit and the long haired guitarist and bassist clearly wish they were in a different band to the others.

    The Bee Gees did do an "in the studio" video for Tragedy:

    So why the Beeb chose not to show it is a mystery. Not the best vid in the world but it shows who's playing on the song and is infinitely better than those bloody pierrots.

  9. I thought that the Legs & Co performance was a stand-out of this show, with the neon colours being a preview of the decade to come. I can't help feeling that the 1980s was the most colourful decade of all time, being a culmination of what started in the mid-60s. Certainly, if you look at colour photographs from the 1950s and early '60s the world seemed a very dowdy place and bold colours don't seem to have been so fashionable in the last 20 years.

    Anyway, back to the plot... having had their 'pure pop' hits the Buzzcocks are now getting 'experimental'. Happened to a lot of 'em...

    The Late Show - who? Don't remember them at all. What do they say - "great minds think alike" or something - I too thought "It's Racey meet Rocky Sharpe & The Replays!"

    Unlike the Leyton Buzzards number, which registered in my young mind as another of those novelty punk songs like Jilted John. Interesting to see a young pre-Modern Romance Geoff Deane. And two songs previous, Lemmy also looked positively youthful! Motorhead, though, strike me as the type of band best suited to grotty film footage of live concerts. They simply don't look right in the sanitised world of mimed TV performances.

    I personally like Cliff Richard's late '70s/early '80s output and this is no exception. Still don't see why he can't sing live with the TOTP orchestra like everyone else though.

  10. This was the few shows this year where I found nothing of note that I wanted to keep that hadn't already been on. Shame really, as The Kid was on top form.

    Inner Circle were pleasant enough but the song was nothing special. The 'punk' Legs & Co routine would have been more of a fun shock had we not seen it loads of times already.

    Buzzcocks were as interesting to watch as always although the song wasn't one of their best. Dennis Brown was also reasonably entertaining (particularly the keyboard player) but reggae is not my bag at all.

    Then we come to Late Show. Oh dear. Musical sound by Darts (via Grease - a lot to answer for, that film!), costumes by Showaddywaddy and drummer by Racey. The guy with the violin wanted to be Den Hegarty SO much that it hurt.

    The Real Thing song I've never enjoyed for some reason, even though I like most of their other tunes. The same goes for Cliff to be honest. It's odd that it's such a well known song, though perhaps it's because it's one of Cliff's faves - it often turns up on compilations despite not being a big hit. The next song is much better. Ditto for the Dooleys!

    The Motorhead song isn't the best, but at least the director and cameramen woke up a bit for it.

    So now we're not getting Soul Train footage either then? Hmmm....not sure why that would be.

    Leyton Buzzards - poor, and I knew they had a connection with another band but couldn't recall which one until I came here.

    Unlike most of my fellow contributors, I would quite happily listen to Modern Romance over most of the artists on this show!

  11. I remember The Late Show, thinking "Great - after Showaddywaddy, Darts, Rocky Sharpe & the Replays, another rock 'n' roll revival act. Just what the chart needs."

    Man, if ever a band's timing was out...

  12. Angelo, thanks for adding the TV listings for the respective evenings. I'm finding it fascinating to see what long-forgotten shows we had back then. First there was Arthur Lowe in "Potter", now there's "Petrocelli", a short-lived series about an Italian-American detective. There was a lot of "Watching the Detectives" even back then - I remember at the time my local ITV region had a 'murder mystery movie' strand on Tuesdays where one week you'd get "Columbo" or "McCloud", another week you'd get "MacMillan and Wife" (I preferred the latter as they featured Susna Saint James as Rock Hudson's wife!).

    1. Do you remember Terry Wogan's Radio 2 campaign at the time to 'buy a brick for Petrocelli' ? Pure class that one. And yes those detectives shows, you can add Cannon, Ironside and Harry O to that list as well :-)

  13. Oh, and for anyone interested (i.e. just me, then), "Flambards" was a drama series set in Essex and spanning the years either side of World War I, and "House Of Caradus" was a seven-part drama series about a family of auctioneers. Nope, me neither.

    PS - The new rival TOTP site, with its headline "Got It Covered", is still stuck back on the 15th February edition.

    1. I remember Flambards more as the show that was relentlessly taken the piss out of by Rob Brydon in early-2000s comedy series 'Director's Commentary'.

      Based around a TV director doing a fake DVD commentary for his 'old shows', it was about as much of its time as you can possibly get, but on the whole it was pretty good. Everyone seems to have forgotten all about it now!

  14. i have as much interest in the telly of the era as i have of the music, so here's my views on that evening's offerings:

    flambards: i'm sure this was very well made and highly respected, but not for me - someone gave me the dvd a while back, but i sold it on ebay without even watching it!

    house of caradus: had trouble digging up info on this, but eventually found it on IMDB... even though it doesn't sound too promising (a drama about a family of auctioneers) i would still like to take a look at such period pieces. why can't they use one of those freeview channels to do that, instead of the rubbish they normally show?

    soap: loved watching this, even though it always seemed to move about in the schedules for what passed as late-night telly in those days. should definitely get a re-run somewhere on freeview...

    wonder woman: never appealed to me at the time as i had it down as a show for girls! i was strictly a "professionals" kind-of-guy at the time. wouldn't mind watching it now for the high camp and low-grade special effects...

    the other one: had no recollection of this at all, had to look it up on tv cream. created by "the good life" writers and starring richard "good life" briars, this never seems to get an airing now... unlike "the good life"! but as that never appealed to me either i don't feel i'm missing out on anything... the newly-disfunctional bbc3 would make an excellent place to show long-forgotten stuff like this, regardless of how or good or bad it is

    petrocelli: all i remember about this crime-drama-by-numbers was that a: the titular character was played by barry newman (best known for cult road movie "vanishing point") who probably has as much italian blood in him as i have i.e. none (they wouldn't get away with that now), and that his "quirk" (which all cops and tecs had to have at that time) was that he when he wasn't doing his villain-nobbling thing he was trying to build his own house, but never got any further than the foundations!

  15. Petrocelli was also notable for its Crimewatch-esque reconstructions of how the case possibly happened before "Petro" told you how it really did happen, which was interesting if nothing else.

  16. I remember Directors' Commentary with Rob Brydon! Also featured Bonanza and Duchess of Duke Street.

    Some musings on this show:

    Dooleys: This promise that they have a couple of top notch efforts later this year had better be delivered on. Am really fed up of their sappy offerings. This one is only just saved by sounding (to me) like it's going to morph into Todd Rundgren's 'I Saw The Light'.

    Buzzcocks: Was this track used in an advert or as a music bed for something else? One of those tracks that I'd heard, but didn't know what it was until now.

    Legs: I really like the Tragedy routine. Cornball, but it's different, and I think they do the clown-like moves pretty well. Can also have the same fun as we had with the Smurfs routine, in trying to work out who is who.

    Does anyone know if we get to see their routine to Lene Lovich's 'Say When'? I think this was possibly the first L&C routine I ever saw, on TOTP2 several years ago. And when I started fancying Rosie something rotten..

    1. Great routine, brilliant song. So it's bound to be on a Savile show, I bet!

    2. "Apple", you're in luck - the Legs & Co routine to "Say When" is hosted by Mike Read.

  17. Old Applejack, I reckon you know the Buzzcocks song from the end credits of Shaun of the Dead, although it was sadly not the original version, but a cover by Ash

  18. Late to the table this week - Not much to add.

    Love the way Cliff never knows what to do with his hands, so always uses the 'Flick Colby' method of obvious interpretation, 'searching' with palm to head.

    Re earlier posting about Soap - I loved that and bought the complete series from the USA. Sadly it has not aged well....