Top of the Pops 1979: 14/06/79

Shown on BBC4
Watched by Chris Arnsby

Mike Read. "Hello chums. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin the continuing story of Top of the Pops."

Chart music: Sister Sledge, We Are Family [8].

Match: Boogie Man [68]. "Watch out/He's gonna get you/The boogie man!" Disco has been around for ages. I'm amazed it has taken this long for someone to make the bogey man/boogie man connection. Shame it couldn't have been a better song.

McFadden & Whitehead: Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now [5]. At the start of the performance the camera tracks across the Top of the Pops studio towards McFadden and Whitehead and goes past them. It looks like a mistake; as if the vision mixer has missed his cue to cut to another camera. Instead the song introduction continues and the camera keeps panning along behind the back of the audience until we see the Top of the Pops orchestra and conductor Johnny Pearson, who grins at the camera. In an unbroken shot the camera keeps panning left and now The Maggie Stredder Singers, who often provide vocal backing, can be seen clapping along. "Ain't no stoppin' us now," they sing and from off-screen McFadden & Whitehead give the next line, "we're on the move." We don't see McFadden and Whitehead again until the camera crane swings behind The Maggie Stredder Singers and starts a slow zoom towards McFadden and Whitehead on stage. Two things surprise. The emphasis on the orchestra and The Maggie Stredder Singers, and the length of time this single shot lasts; 75 seconds, that's ages in a show like Top of the Pops. Had someone from the Musicians Union been sniffing around? The Maggie Stredder Singers are credited this week which hasn't happened for some time. Was this all done so the BBC could prove it wasn't breaching its Musicians Union agreement? Or is this just the Top of the Pops taking advantage of a song with a long introduction to show off and do something a bit different?
Lene Lovich: Say When [24].Legs & Co dance to Lene Lovich's disappointing follow up to Lucky Number. Spangley leotards and marching on the spot are the order of the day. Through the magic of technology Legs & Co are doubled in the long shots so there appears to be 12 of them; that's 24 legs in total.

Gerry Rafferty: Night Owl [26]. Now here's Gerry Rafferty with his disappointing follow up to Baker Street. Gerry doesn't like coming to the Top of the Pops studio so instead we see another boring promo film of session musicians pretending to record the song in a studio. Unlike the film for Baker Street there's no archive footage of London to get excited over.

Quantum Jump: The Lone Ranger [16]. BBC4 has skipped a show presented by J**** S***** which means we enter a block of songs repeated from the Paul Burnett edition.

Edwin Starr: H-A-P-P-Y Radio [10]. Presumably H.A.P.P.Y is an acronym. I'm stuck on what the Y could stand for.

Tubeway Army: Are ‘Friends’ Electric? [7]. Gary stares sulkily at the audience. They stare back. Impasse. 
When she looks over to check, Anita Ward is delighted that the bell has indeed been rung.
Janet Kay: Silly Games [41]. The guitarist in the white cap is brilliant, he really gets into the music he's playing. Meanwhile a gang of idiots in the audience wave at themselves on the studio monitor.

Earth, Wind & Fire with The Emotions: Boogie Wonderland [4]. And another chance to see the elemental chaos of this promo film. There's so many great moments to spot; the singer who wildly flails her elbows and looks like she could really injure someone; the guy holding the trombone and tambourine who tries to dance on to the stage but can't break through the heaving mass and is forced to backtrack; and the bloke who has forgotten his stage trousers and dances down the stairs wearing the top half of his costume over a pair of jeans, disappointingly Top of the Pops fades the video before this moment but it can be seen on Youtube.

Chas & Dave: Gertcha [27]. The audience have been issued with "gertcha" signs. This is an odd decision because the subsequent performance is recorded mostly as a series of close-ups and the audience can barely be seen.

Squeeze: Up The Junction [13]. A fourth repeat from the Paul Burnett edition.

Number one: Anita Ward, Ring My Bell. I'm fond of the "pew" noise which often gets used on disco records. It reminds me of the future music tv programmes like Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century would play when they wanted to show their main characters relaxing off duty. The first verse of Ring My Bell uses the pew sound on alternate beats which seems excessive. Luckily after this it settles down. The lyrics actually include the words "ding dong." Presumably this was done because ringing a bell would sound too much like a Christmas record but it allows you to imagine how Leslie Phillips would sound singing the song.

Closing titles: John Williams, Cavatina [30].

Performance of the week: A thin week for new studio performances. Lets go for Anita Ward, Ring My Bell. Ding dong.

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