Top of the Pops 78: 08/06/78

As watched by Chris Arnsby on BBC4. Originally broadcast 8/6/78

Noel Edmonds, “Some of you might be relieved to know that in the next few minutes football will not be mentioned. So welcome to Top of the Goals.. er Pops!”

Chart music: John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John, You’re The One That I Want [2]

Manfred Mann's Earth Band: Davy’s On The Road Again [13]. A good choice to open the programme. The song is given special attention from the vision mixer. The introduction is tinted sepia before bursting into lifelike PAL colour and later, as the instrumental kicks in, a blue tint moves across the screen from left to right. Then, suddenly, we get an appearance by a mystery woman. “Davy's on the road again... again... again,” she sings. She's not on stage with the band, but she is on video, and forensic examination of the scene reveals she does seem to be in the Top of the Pops studio. Who was she? One of The Ladybirds (who provide vocal backing for the Top of the Pops orchestra)? A wandering minstrel? Rosemary the telephone operator? We'll never know, but surely our lives can never be the same again.

Manfred Mann was regretting eating too many bananas.

David Soul: It Sure Brings Out The Love In Your Eyes [18]. A slightly blurry promo video. Could this be an NTSC conversion? It doesn't really matter. We see a man and a woman meeting in a restaurant. They seem superficially happy but their body language is tense. “It brings a cold shiver inside/ Each time I see you looking over your shoulder/ At passing shadows of your days with him” sings David, but is he singing the thoughts of the man or the woman? The mystery deepens because the opening shot of the video shows the woman going into the restaurant as David Soul leaves. Was David Soul having dinner with the man? That might explain why the man was holding a rose, which he puts down before the woman arrives at the table. Unfortunately the video fades out before the end, and the second song of the night ends with unanswered questions.

Plastic Bertrand: Ça Plane Pour Moi [10]. Plastic's back and dancing with Legs & Co, who are waving what look like baguettes; presumably under the studio lights the icing on Belgian buns would have melted and got everywhere. I can only say the objects look like baguettes because what we see on screen is six people leaping around as the camera crew struggle to capture a decent medium close up. The core of the routine is meant to be Legs & Co dancing round Plastic, but he keeps springing all over the place and much of the performance is a succession of blurry shots of him jumping out of frame. At one point one of the Legs bumps into him but like the pro she is she keeps dancing and waits for him to move.

Lindisfarne: Run For Home [56]. I probably haven't heard this since 1978, and yet in one of those vagaries of childhood memory I'm word perfect on the chorus. This song must have made a real impression on me at the time. The audience really get into it as well, doing their best to clap along. The guitarist is wearing a vile multi-coloured jumper complete with knitted bow tie shape.

The Rolling Stones: Miss You [23]. Another blurry promo video. No plot this time, just the Rolling Stones in a red studio, with a red frame vignetting the screen. Basically lots of red.

The Brotherhood Of Man: Beautiful Lover [27]. First repeat of the evening as we get a second chance to see this uncertain fist pumping performance from the 18/5/78 edition.

Goldie: Making Up Again [24]. Tonight's visual gimmick is a stepped zoom. We saw it first on Plastic Bertrand, when on each “moi moi moi” the camera would zoom in a little. Here it's used on the introductory zoom in to the lead singer of Goldie. This is a different, more boring Goldie to the one you're thinking of, and the song passes uneventfully.

Maxine Nightingale: It Must Have Been The Boy In You [NEW].The only new entry of the show. I actually feel a little guilty about dismissing this song so offhandedly, but I can't really think of anything to say. It's inoffensive enough, and the audience quite like it, but it never really makes any sort of an impression.

Guy Marks: Loving You Has Made Me Bananas [30]. And the reward for most unexpected repeat goes to Guy Marks. Well done to him for staying in the charts for nearly a month but who is (was) buying this? A second repeat from the 18/5/78 show. Guy Marks name checks Top of the Pops musical director Johnny Pearson is his spoken introduction; which is nice of him.

AC/DC: Rock ‘N’ Roll Damnation [51]. The vision mixer goes to town in the introduction with a wipe between shots that divides the screen up into small squares. It's used six times in total, and is more interesting than a simple cut. Early on in the song, in a flashback to the Plastic Bertrand performance, one of the cameramen tries to get a big close up of the lead singer and there's some frantic panning as he keeps moving out of frame. The lead singer must notice this because for a couple of seconds he whips his head from side to side, tormenting the poor camera operator. Appropriately the lyric at this point is, “shake your stuff.”

Number 1: Boney M, By The Rivers Of Babylon. Another outing for the repeat of Boney M's one Top of the Pops performance for this song. Obviously being a German group it's not easy to get them back in the studio but this lack of variety is a shame. Presumably we're not yet at the point where all songs automatically had promo video made.

Closing titles: Father Abraham & The Smurfs, The Smurf Song [25]. Yow! Another blast of nostalgia. While I've remembered 1978 as the summer of Grease, I'd forgotten it was also the summer of Smurfs. Father Abraham is going to be hanging around the charts for weeks so there'll be plenty of time for National Garage Smurf memories later. Next week's Top of the Pops (that's 15/6/78) is presented by J***y S****e so we will not see Legs & Co's CSO-tastic Smurf dance routine. However it is on Youtube if you want to see four unfortunate members of Legs & Co dressed as Smurfs and forced to dance while wearing clown shoes. The artistic conceit is that the audience are watching Legs & Co as Smurfs dancing on a Punch and Judy stand. Two main camera angles are required. First the audience point of view of Legs and Co, and second a rear angle looking past Legs and Co at the watching audience. The resulting routine is a technical miracle, and a brilliant demonstration of how the BBC would use any number of complicated resources to realise something utterly trivial.

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