Thursday, September 30, 2004

70s Top of the Pops: Come on baby do the juke box jive...

This is a snippet from my local newspaper the Cambridge Evening News, dated 10/12/1977. It's interesting (if you happen to live in mid-Anglia) to see what was on in the "What's On" section (the Spinners! Wow!), but the main reason for the inclusion of this little snippet is the TV review.

Do you mourn for the days when the pop charts were full of mind-blowingly innovative, totally new, totally THRILLING stuff?

Er... just when exactly was that?

Our local rag's TV reviewer back in 1977, Crawford Gillian, had a hate/hate relationship with TOTP. I've copied the review below, as the original is a little on the faint side in parts.

Ten-year toppers

About 10 years ago, "Top of the Pops" was a Thursday night "must" for me.

It was an easy way to keep an eye on the pop end of the music scene. And for good measure, if you will excuse such a tasteless pun, there were always Pan's People - suitably undressed.

In those days, you could expect to see such giants of the pop world as Paul McCartney, Manfred Mann or the Bee Gees.

On Thursday last week I tuned into "Top of the Pops" for the first time in ages and on the show were... Paul McCartney, Manfred Mann and the Bee Gees! Pan's People were still there, or at least their younger sisters. But now they're called Legs and Co.

Even the camera angles looked the same. There is still the lingering close-up of the pianist's fingers, the shots in negative, melting into others aimed directly into coloured spotlights. Of course, in 1967, we didn't know they were coloured.

The performers respond with the same mock-petulant postures and still don't bother to maintain the pretence of playing their instruments.

Women's Lib doesn't seem to have penetrated the pop world. There was the statutory girl draped round each of Tony Blackburn's shoulders as he introduced the groups, purely decorative.

One exception was a gravel-throated girl singer who looked and sounded like Rod Stewart - another reminder of the sixties influence.

Even the Number One spot looked decidedly dated with Paul McCartney and his jingoistic tribute to the Mull of Kintrye.

It featured a Scottish pipe band marching up and down a beach. Being of the appropriate nationality, I suppose the blood should have been leaping in my veins at such a sight. All it reminded me of was the "Monty Python" sketch with the kamikazee Highlanders throwing themselves one after the other from castle battlements.

If Messrs Cleese and Chapman had got hold of this one, the sequence would have ended with the pipe band marching out to sea.

But that's one of the troubles with "Top of the Pops". It never has had any sense of humour.

Next week Elton John takes on the job of handling the introductions. Another sixties superstar. Need I say more?

The "gravel-throated" singer was none other than Bonnie Tyler with It's A Heartache.

The top ten for the week ending 10/12/1977 was:

1) Mull of Kintyre/Girls' School - Wings

2) Floral Dance - Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band

3) How Deep Is Your Love - Bee Gees

4) Dancin' Party - Showaddywaddy

5) I Will - Ruby Winters

6) Daddy Cool - Darts

7) We Are The Champions - Queen

8) Rockin' All Over The World - Status Quo

9) Egyptian Raggae - Jonathan Richmond and the Modern Lovers

10) Belfast - Boney M

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