Top of the Pops 78: 16/03/78

As watched on BBC4 by Chris Arnsby

Originally broadcast 16/3/78

Peter Powell, “two guesses where I've just come from*! And ten points for joining us on Top of the Pops! Here's the charts and The Real Thing!”
Chart music: Whenever You Want My Love, The Real Thing [29]

Suzi Quatro: If You Can't Give Me Love [42]. A great way to start off the show. My knowledge of Suzi Quatro songs begins and ends with Devil Gate Drive (and He's A Sports P.A. from the BBC Christmas tape Good King Memorex) but this is catchy and fun.

Gerry Rafferty: Baker Street [6]. Played in from film. The best thing about these Top of the Pops repeats is encountering iconic songs in their original context. Here Baker Street is sandwiched between Suzi Quatro and Legs & Co. and it doesn't seem out of place. Bob Holness isn't playing the saxophone in this promo film. I wonder why they'd want to edit him out?

Bob Marley & The Wailers: Is This Love? [11] Legs & Co dance live in studio to Bob Marley. The set is surrounded by Japanese screens decorated with plants (not the plant Bob Marley is most associated with),while Legs & Co wear short cut leotards with added flouncy netting. Nothing matches. It's as if the set designer, costumer, and choreography all had a row and refused to talk to each other.

Dan Hill: Sometimes When We Touch [37]. Dan's wearing a cardigan and collared shirt. Want to bet he's wearing sensible shoes as well? If it wasn't for the Demis Roussos straggly hair and beard he'd look like a singing librarian. Repeating a visual trick from last week Dan is framed by close-up shots of hands playing a piano.

Earth, Wind & Fire: Fantasy [14]. Another promo film. The sound is odd on this film of what seems to be a live performance. The rest of the band (Wind and Fire?) are putting in a really energetic performance, and leaping all over the place, but the only person we can hear is the lead singer which makes the song sound a bit weak and reedy. One of the guitarists appears to be wearing striped disco pantaloons: funky.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions: I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea [31]. All the live studio performances (Suzi Quatro, Elvis Costello, and later The Vibrators) this evening are recorded on the same stage, except for Dan Hill who was stuck among the audience on a podium. The remaining studio space is occupied by the Legs & Co stage. Has this show been filmed in a smaller studio than normal?  It's unusual for Top of the Pops to only have two sets. I wonder what else was going on at Television Centre to displace Top of the Pops?

Elvis Costello is extremely miffed to find out he is in Chelsea after all

Manhattan Transfer: Walk In Love [26]. Bland, with a rotten love/above/love rhyme on the three line chorus. Still, it's possible I'm biased. I haven't forgiven Manhattan Transfer for  their version of the dire earworm song Chanson D'Amour [rat-atat-atat] from last year (ie 1977). Blast, I've got the damn song stuck in my head again.

The Vibrators: Automatic Lover [49]. Thirty five years of hindsight makes the transition from Manhattan Transfer to The Vibrators awkward. The camera cuts to Peter Powell standing in profile face-to-face with a young lady, “Manhattan Transfer and Walk In Love,” he says softly as the pair sway from side to side, before adding, “I've found myself an Automatic Lover,” and the girl walks off disappointed. The automatic lover of the song is almost certainly a woman who carries an automatic gun, and not what you were thinking you filthy beast.

Number 1: Kate Bush, Wuthering Heights. A repeat from the Noel Edmonds edition two weeks ago. Kate's back at the grand piano and looking amazing.

Closing titles: Donna Summer, Rumour Has It [19].

*passage of time has rendered Peter Powell's quip meaningless. He's wearing a red lumberjack shirt to which he gestures. Maybe he literally means he's just come back from Canada.

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