02/03/2013

Top of the Pops 78: 02/03/78

As watched by Chris Arnsby

Originally broadcast 2/3/78
Noel Edmonds, “good evening and welcome to tonight's recital of Top of the Pops.”
Chart music: Bob Marley & the Wailers, Is This Love [17].

Darts: Come Back My Love [2]. A new studio performance of a song that's been knocking around in the charts for a few weeks. At this risk of sounding like a grumpy old git I'm finding Darts' wackiness forced and irritating, but everyone else seems to love them. I also worry about the number of people on stage. There can't be much money per person once you've divided everything by nine.


Darts spot something really interesting in the studio

Samantha Sang: Emotions [16]. Samantha Sang appears on film, walking towards camera through a vortex of dry ice. This is presumably supposed to look mysterious and exotic, but actually resembles the universe of primal chaos from the titles of Monkey; sadly, Sang launches into forgettable ballad instead of giving birth to a stone egg. The performance is notable for Sang's squinty-eyed look to camera, it's not sultry she just looks like she's been hitting the gin round the back of the set. She also sounds as if she is being accompanied by the Bee Gees on the chorus.

Tom Robinson Band: Don't Take No For An Answer [18]. A repeat of previous studio performance, in one of the wide shots presenter David Jensen can be seen lounging on the scenery. It's not the greatest song Tom Robinson Band have done, but it's a lively and enthusiastic performance and the audience are really enjoying themselves.

Kate Bush: Wuthering Heights [5]. By contrast Kate Bush seems to make the Top of the Pops audience surly and confused. Seated at a grand piano Kate Bush gives an astonishing wide-eyed and pouting performance but in the infrequent wide shots the audience stand still and glower at the stage. An outstanding song, and the playground the next day was full of questions; “did you see/what was she wearing/what was that all about/what did she look like?”

Nick Lowe: I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass [NEW]. Being a musical ignoramus I would never have dated this song to 1978, I'd have placed it somewhere around 1982/83. I also thought complicated Musician’s Union rules were responsible for this performance lacking the actual breaking glass sound effects I remembered. A trip to Youtube to listen to the original means I now know those effects were never there at all.

Rita Coolidge: Words [25]. A nice enough song played in on film. It sounds like exactly how I always imagined The New Seekers sounded, based on nothing more than looking at their album covers in my parents' record collection. The song chugs along being pleasantly forgettable until the chorus, at which point recognition sets in; oh it's that song.

Earth, Wind & Fire: Fantasy [21]. Legs & Co. dance along dressed in skimpy leotards with extra flouncy bits of netting. Three members of Legs dance on scaffolding and provide unintentional humour by pouting as they strike poses during the routine.

Andy Williams: Sad [NEW]. Wearing a sensible shirt, and matching trousers and jumper, Andy Williams brings down the energy levels in the studio. The studio audience are indifferent.

Number 1: Abba, Take A Chance On Me. On film, the one where they divide the screen into quarters. As Noel introduces the song director Stanley Appel has the picture shrunk back into a small box to make it look like part of the video, but he doesn't quite hold the effect for long enough to work properly.

Closing titles: Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street accompanies the standard kaleidoscopic pan around the studio lighting grid.

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