Top of the Pops 1978: 13.07.78

Originally broadcast 13/07/78
as shown on BBC4 reviewed by Chris Arnsby

Tony Blackburn. “Hello. Welcome to Top of the Pops and right now here's that brand new top twenty.” Man, Tony Blackburn just isn't trying any more. He's used the same introduction (with minor variations) for at least the last five shows he's presented; and this time he's forgotten how many songs make up the top thirty.

Chart music: Saturday Night Band, Come On Dance Dance [26].

The Boomtown Rats: Like Clockwork [6]. This is the third outing for a song which has been hanging round the charts since mid June. The original performance took place on a J**** S***** show, and the first repeat on one presented by D*v* L** Tr*v*s, so it's a new performance to us BBC4 viewers. Bob Geldof's brought along props to illustrate the song; a clockwork mouse, and a clock. The prop tomfoolerly shows he's really getting the hand of this television lark. As do his movements on camera. A lot of singers jiggle from side to side, forcing the camera to make sudden lurches to keep them on screen. Bob Geldof tends to move backwards and forwards, it's much more effective and really allows him to dominate the camera; the lad's a natural. The rest of the band amuse themselves with staccato dancing.
Bob Geldof used to plug himself directly into the mains for extra energy

Suzi Quatro: The Race Is On [NEW]. The follow up single to If You Can't Give Me Love from back in March. That was catchy and fun. This suffers from a plodding first verse although the pace picks up into the chorus. As the second chorus kicks in there's a terrible shot of the drummer, it's out of focus and still moving to centre the drummer in the middle of the frame. It's immediately followed by a very impressive zoom out from the big close-up of the drummer to a wide shot of the studio with all the band on stage. It looks as if the vision mixer cut to the shot early while the cameraman was still getting into position to start the zoom.

Andrew Gold: How Can This Be Love [29]. A manky NTSC converted promo video. I'm pretty sure the video for Never Let Her Slip Away looked much better.

The O'Jays: Used Ta Be My Girl [13]. It's Legs & Co in black semi-transparent batwing tops, over what must be flesh-coloured body stockings. The finished effect cleverly makes Legs & Co look as if they are wearing very much less than normal.

Steve Voice: On The Shelf [NEW]. A vision in beige. Steve Voice wiggles his hips and shifts his weight from one leg to the other, for the entire duration of the song. In the Top of the Pops performance handbook, if Bob Geldof is currently the 'do' then you can find Steve Voice's picture next to 'don't do'.

Bob Marley & The Wailers: Satisfy My Soul [23]. Arrgh, a repeat from the unruly audience edition of 22nd June. There's “Eastcote wants home rule”, and the Twat in the England Hat still dancing facing away from the stage.

Renaissance: Northern Lights [63]. Like Run For Home by Lindisfarne, I was surprised to find I was word perfect on the chorus of Northern Lights without apparently encountering the song in the intervening 35 years. I could easily believe it was used as the theme for something (maybe an Iceland tourist board campaign -“The northern lights are in my mind/They guide me back to you”. I've copyrighted the idea now Iceland so don't try to rip me off). The Renaissance Wikipedia page is frustratingly vague about other uses of Northern Lights but I did find out they were responsible for the theme tune to a series called The Paper Lads which I remember watching around the same time. In fact the theme song to The Paper Lads ended up on the same album as Northen Lights.

Father Abraham & The Smurfs: The Smurf Song [2]. Legs & Co are back with a routine luckily repeated from a skipped J**** S***** edition. I say luckily because this is magnificent. It's up there with Flick Colby's interpretation of Mah Nà Mah Nà by Piero Umiliani. Look back to the blog post for 8/6/78 for a description of the routine but for now let us simply sit upon the floor and weep as did Alexander when he saw the glories of Egypt. Best moment: the camera angle into the audience. They've been asked to gaze into a camera lens and pretend they are watching Legs & Co dance on a Punch and Judy stand. For the most part they do a grand job, but there are frequent self-concious grins at the ridiculousness of what they are doing.

Lindisfarne: Run For Home [12]. Speaking of Lindisfarne, here they are in a repeat performance from the 8th June edition.

Voyage: From East To West [30]. Well this is funky. Nice song, shame about the video. Voyage are, apparently a trio; a drummer, and two guitarists (one of them wearing what looks like black judge's robes). Then suddenly 20 seconds in there's a shot of a bloke wearing a white jacket and red cravat. Where did he come from? It takes another few seconds before the editor of this collection of randomly assembled camera angles gives us a shot of Mr Cravat playing a keyboard slightly to the left of the drummer. The wide shot of the band doesn't include the fourth member of the group! Was this filmed in the world's smallest studio and the camera couldn't push back far enough to get all four onscreen at the same time? Suddenly there's another three shot of the band, this time featuring the keyboard player, the drummer, and one guitarist. Ah, now it all becomes clear. The keyboard player and the guitarist wearing judges robes can't stand each other. They must have recorded this twice; once with the drummer and both guitarists, and then again with the keyboard player once the robe wearing guitarist had left. I hope they patched up their differences in the end.

Racey: Baby It’s You [NEW]. As the second verse starts the director makes fantastic use of the camera crane. Starting on a medium close-up of Racey's lead singer, the shot pulls back all the way across the studio right through the stage opposite. Next the camera pans left and moves back along the side of the stage it has just come through, lifting up and zooming back towards Racey. Still in one unbroken shot, the camera moves down into the audience for a moment before lifting up again and zooming in for a close-up of a guitar.

Number One: John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John, You’re The One That I Want. It's Floyd and Legs & Co, again. After four weeks of seeing this I feel like a did in 1978. When's another song going to get to number one? Sorry Floyd, I'm getting bored of this routine.

Closing titles: Blue Öyster Cult, (Don’t Fear) The Reaper.

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