Top of the Pops 79 01.11.79

BBC4: Top of the Pops 1979 01/11/79
Reviewed by Chris Arnsby
Mike Read, "It's Thursday night and time for one of the longest running serials on television, Top of the Pops. And here to sing over the charts, Sad Cafe."
Chart music: Sad Cafe, Every Day Hurts [3]
Sparks: Tryouts For The Human Race [45]. Presented in Ron Mael-ascope! A ghostly  Ron Mael is superimposed over Sparks' performance; lit luridly in alternating green, red and blue shades. Imagine what that must have looked like being recorded. A single camera pointing up at Ron Mael as he glares into the lens for three minutes, occasionally bashing at his head to emphasise the song's percussion. If only the raw videotape still existed. Just when you think it can't get any better vision mixer Carol Abbott turns up the electronic effects. Now there are three Rons; like that bit in the Doctor Who story Earthshock when the Cyber-Leader booms, "my army awakes."
Sparks: Ron spots a Ninja

The Ramblers: The Sparrow [26]. Remember The Matrix when Keanu Reaves goes "woah! I know kung fu," that's me watching The Ramblers. Thirty five year old memories suddenly unpacking in my brain. The lyrics! The singing! The sneaking suspicion that I really liked this when I was eight! The Barron Knights spoof ("I'm only a poor little fairy [aah]/stuck on the top of the tree [what a shame]/they switched on the lights and bang went my tights then my legs fell off one two three [one two three?]". Sadly my memories don't include The Ramblers encounter with the Phantom Flan Flinger on TISWAS but that can be watched on Youtube.

Darts: Can't Get Enough Of Your Love [50]. Nice enough but overshadowed by the songs on either side.

The Jam: The Eton Rifles [29]. Some songs are just perfect and need no additional comments. That said I'm not sure the four silly asses wearing Fusilier’s dress uniforms add anything to the performance.

Lene Lovich: Bird Song [46]. Compare the presentation of The Jam and Lene Lovich. The direction of The Eton Rifles, four silly asses aside, is very straightforward. On the other hand Lene Lovich is absolutely slathered in video effects with some elaborate cutting between shots and enhanced colours. Neither approach is wrong. Its just a good example of how when Top of the Pops was really on form it would make sure the visuals matched the essence of the song. The contrast between The Jam and Lene Lovich couldn't be more striking but neither feels out of place or wrong. If you want to make your head hurt then try to imagine how The Eton Rifles would look if shot like Bird Song, and vice versa.

Earth, Wind & Fire: Star [16]. Legs & Co, a star filter, and Vaseline lightly smeared on the lens. Legs & Co are dressed how I like to imagine the flight assistants will look on the first commercial flight to the moon.
Thin Lizzy: Sarah [43]. A disappointing wimp-rock song from Thin Lizzy.

Suzi Quatro: She's In Love With You [20]. The "proper" version of the song He's A Sports P.A. from Good King Memorex, the 1979 BBC VT Christmas tape. That version appears to have been recorded during rehearsals for the 18/10/79 Top of the Pops; skipped from this repeat run because it was presented by D*v* L** Tr*v*s.

B. A. Roberton:  Knocked It Off [42]. This has been a very low charting edition of Top of the Pops. Aside from the number one (spoilers: it's One Day At A Time, again), Every Day Hurts and Tusk are the only top ten songs. In fact of the bands appearing in studio only Suzi Quatro brushes the top twenty. Still here's B. A. Robertson singing in a weird strangulated falsetto and channelling Ian Dury.

Number 1: Lena Martell, One Day At A Time. A repeat of the performance from last week. Another chance to see Johnny Pearson leer at the camera.

Closing titles: Fleetwood Mac, Tusk [8].

Performance of the week. It's The Four Silly Asses, featuring The Jam, and The Eton Rifles.


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