Top of the Pops 79: 12/07/79

Shown on BBC4.  Watched by Chris Arnsby

Mike Read. "If you've been following this serial for the last 15 years you'll be keen to know what happens in the next episode of Top of the Pops."

Chart music: Slick, Space Bass [16].

Siouxsie & The Banshees: Playground Twist [33]. It turns out I've been confusing Siouxsie Sioux and Lene Lovich for years. Playground Twist is an odd choice for opening song and starts Top of the Pops with a sound which is more haunting and gloomy than normal. Adding to the eerie vibe is producer David G. Hiller's decision to intercut the performance with the cover artwork for the single; crudely drawn felt tip figures.  

The Police: "It's Sting not Spring!"
Thom Pace: Maybe [17]. Top of the Pops shifts into low gear with a repeat of Thom Pace's theme song for The Legend Of Grizzly Adams.

The Beach Boys: Lady Lynda [8]. Lady Lynda opens with a snippet of Bach. By Flick Colby's rules this means the song must be serious and sensitive, so its long flowing dresses and lots of ballet-style gallumphing and leaping about for Legs & Co.

The Police: Can't Stand Losing You [38]. Hooray! The Police are hear to cheer us up with a song about relationship breakdown and suicide. The videotape for this episode is suddenly in a right two-and-eight. Lots of little white dots start appearing on screen as the Legs & Co routine comes to an end. Years of reading the Doctor Who Restoration Team website has primed me to recognise this as tape damage. This tape must have been played a lot to take clips of The Police's second appearance. Stewart Copeland seems to drop one of his drum sticks during the instrumental although it's difficult to tell because it's concealed by the camera movement and lights shining into the lens. Stewart Copeland exchanges what looks like a panicky glance with Sting (who then adjusts the tuning pegs on Andy Summers' guitar, for some reason) before leaning over and picking something up from the front of the stage. Then he leans over again to adjust his drum kit before straightening up and hitting the cymbal a fraction too late to match up with the audio. To give him credit, while doing all this he carries on drumming with his one remaining stick.

Rickie Lee Jones: Chuck E.'s In Love [30]. There's a very fancy transition from Can't Stand Losing You to Chuck E.'s In Love. The picture of Sting and the boys is shrunk down into a small box and then cross faded to the promo film of Rickie Lee Jones. Oddly the technology isn't up to making the return journey. So instead of the box growing bigger to fill the screen again we get a standard wipe into the film.

Stonebridge McGuinness: Oo-Eeh Baby [NEW]. Mike Read is in a playful kittenish mood tonight. He introduced The Police by putting on a policeman's helmet, and now he stands on stage with Stonebridge McGuiness and witters on about how, "occasionally I bash a bit of bad guitar." This is meant to link into Tom McGuinness dedicating Oo-Eeh Baby as, "a song for Anna's birthday," but actually what it does is remind me of the seemingly interminable times when Mike Read would drag out his guitar on Saturday Superstore. Although technically as this is 1979 it hasn't happened yet, so Mike Read's line has reminded me of something he hasn't yet done. Now I'm confused.

Janet Kaye: Silly Games [2]. A repeat of the performance from the 28/6/79 edition.

Public Limited Image: Death Disco [32]. Rotten and boring.

Supertramp: Breakfast In America [26]. For anyone still trying to access Spectacle, the  program on the B-side of Dark Star the Design Design ZX Spectrum game, the password is Everyone's a nervous wreck. A clue was in the high score table listing CD3708, the code for Supertramp's Breakfast In America album, which contains the song Just Another Nervous Wreck. More thirty year old computer game tips next week.

Chantal Curtis: Get Another Love [51]. More videotape damage. Has someone been using this tape as a doorstop?

Thin Lizzy: Do Anything You Want To [14]. Thin Lizzy are threatened by a succession of authority figures in this video; a policeman, a man sitting behind a desk, a sexy traffic warden, a teacher, and a sexy judge. Phil Lynott also has to pretend to be trapped behind the flimsiest set of prison bars this side of Slade prison.

Judie Tzuke: Stay With Me Till Dawn [58]. Wikipedia tells me that Judie Tzuke goes on to have a long career. Good for her.

Number One: Tubeway Army, Are ‘Friends’ Electric? In the wake of loose-thread-gate last week Gary Newman won't come out of his bedroom. Top of the Pops have to repeat an old Tubeway Army performance.

Closing titles: Donna Summer, Bad Girls [22]. Stop the press! Top of the Pops has finally started crediting the vision mixer. About time, given how much they contribute to the look of the programme. Stand up Chris Gage and take a bow. In fact the credits seem to have been the subject of a rethink across the board with added captions for floor manager Geoff Walmsley, and the production team Linda Beadle, Lesley Coulburn and Annie Ogden. Digging around a little it appears the change occured on the first show of July (not shown on BBC4 because it was presented by J**** S*****).

Performance of the week: The Police: Can't Stand Losing You, dropped drum stick and all.

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