Top of the Pops 1978: 04/05/78

as watched by Chris Arnsby on BBC4

Kid Jensen, “hello and welcome to the music. This week's hit sound countdown is to the music of The Stranglers.”
Chart music: The Stranglers, Nice N Sleazy  [27]

The Dooleys: Don't Take It Lying Down [NEW]. The lead singer of The Dooleys is the very model of a cheesy pop star. Grinning massively, pointing at members of the audience, and doing a big Diana Ross style STOP-in-the-name-of-love hand gesture when recommending that the “girl” of the song, “don't take it lying down.” He's clearly deeply in love with himself; and why shouldn't he be? He is fronting the leading act on this week's Top Of The Pops, if it was me I'd need plastic surgery to keep the smile off my face. That said, the whole look and sound of The Dooleys is dated even for 1978, and the song somehow manages to be simultaneously bland and catchy. By the second repetition of the chorus you'll be humming along, but the song will be forgotten once the next band appears. 
One member of Darts had put something in the mouthwash...

Ruby Winters: Come To Me [28]. In this promo film Ruby wanders around in a garden while wearing a blue raincoat. She stands next to a fountain, touches a plant, and then wanders briefly down a street. It looks like they've gone somewhere expensive to shoot a promo film and the weather wasn't as good as they'd hoped.

Tonight: Money That’s Your Problem  [NEW]. The lead singer of Tonight wishes he was Mick Jagger. The cameramen wish he'd stop leaping around the stage. At the start there are some terribly framed shots as they try to get a decent close-up. At one point there's an out of focus shot of some scenery with the guitarist's head behind before the camera pans right and finds the lead singer as he's going left, then abruptly goes right. Just as the cameraman thinks he got the shot lined up the singer ducks down, and he's out of the frame again. It's a game of tag and no one is winning. When the chorus starts up the other two guitarists/backing singers have the sense to stand still at the microphone and get some decent screen time.

Donna Summer: Back In Love Again [29]. Legs & Co dance under a pergola draped with golden streamers. Centre stage is a large ornamental flower pot, filled with plants, more of the streamers, and what seems to be a gold coloured Roman bust. Legs & Co are wearing white cardigans with long skirts. None of this matches at all. Could the seemingly random design and performance actually be deliberate? Is it a Da Vinci Code style collection of symbols? Are Legs & Co dancing out a series of clues to the bloodline of Jesus?

Andrew Gold: Never Let Her Slip Away [5]. Wait a minute, wasn't this on last week? Once again BBC4 have skipped an episode. In this case the edition from 27/4/78 which was presented by J***y S****e.

Hi-Tension: Hi Tension [44]. An odd song this. In fact it's not so much a song more an introduction as the band sing, “Hi-Tension, that's what we are. Superstar!”. It sounds more like the start of a set than a song in its own right. For the duration of the song I keep waiting for the members of the band to introduce themselves, rather like The Floaters did in their terrible song Float On from last year (1977).

Richard Denton & Martin Cook: Theme From Hong Kong Beat [25]. Another song from last week's BBC4 edition. At one point the stock footage shows a place called “Latin Quarter”, which describes itself as a, “nightclub and topless mermaid bar.” Surely a topless mermaid is just a fish tail? The one oddity among the collection of scratchy film which makes up this promo is the absence of any clips of 747s flying over buildings to land at Hong Kong airport. Look up Kai Tak airport on Youtube, and prepare to be amazed that anyone ever got any sleep in Kowloon.

Dee D. Jackson: Automatic Lover [6]. Dee D.'s back, and she's brought her robot again. I'm not 100% certain but this performance doesn't seem to take place in the Top Of The Pops studio. It's just a black draped space filled with dry ice so frankly it could be anywhere. The weird thing is this looks now looks less like a 70s pop song, than a French and Saunders spoof of a 70s pop song.

Darts: The Boy From New York City [30]. I'm not the worlds greatest Darts fan but to give them some credit they are a versatile band. Across this run of repeats they've performed Daddy Cool, Come Back My Love, and now this song, and each one has had a different person on lead vocal. This time it's the turn of Rita Ray to sing as Den Hegarty clowns around. I was always more of a Showaddywaddy fan.

Co-Co: The Bad Old Days [13]. A third repeat from last week's BBC4 edition. Although to be pedantic both Theme From Hong Kong Beat, and Never Let Her Slip Away, were repeats of the promo films rather than reused studio performances. “Remember who/walked into my life and put their foot inside my shoe,” go the lyrics at one point. That's a placeholder line if I've ever heard one. Like Paul McCartney's “scrambled eggs/oh my baby how I love your legs “ for Yesterday. Evidentially Co-Co couldn't think of anything to replace the romantic image of someone stealing a woman's heart by wearing her shoe.

The Boomtown Rats: She’s So Modern [15]. And another repeat performance from the Peter Powell edition seen on BBC4 last week.

John Paul Young: Love Is In The Air [15] Blimey, one of those songs which I'd sort of assumed had been around for ever gets it's first Top Of The Pops performance. John Paul Young has a Jilly Cooper fringe that I really want to brush away from his eyes. Apparently I'm turning into my nan.

Michael Zager Band: Let's All Chant [10]. Kid Jensen says, “and here to make their second appearance on tonight's Top Of The Pops are Legs & Co,” but like all television this is a lie. It's a repeat of the feather boa performance from last week's Peter Powell BBC4 edition, again.

Manhattan Transfer: On A Little Street In Singapore [NEW]. I'm also not the world's greatest Manhattan Transfer fan [rat-atat-atat] but this is a decent jazz cover. It sounds like the sort of tune Dennis Potter would drop into The Singing Detective.

Number 1: Night Fever. “The nation's number one for the week number two,” says Kid Jensen, unaware that future scheduling decisions mean when we saw Legs & Co dance to this last week it was still number two. And blow me down if Legs & Co aren't back again. An unprecidented third appearance in one show for them, and a sixth repeat from the Peter Powell edition as we see Legs & Co strut on the catwalk once more. 

Closing titles: Squeeze, Take Me I'm Yours [35]. This week the closing pan across the studio lights is augmented with an electronic shape which looks bizarrely like the BFBS logo from 1980. If you don't know what the BFBS ident looked like, search for it on Youtube after you're done looking at planes landing at Kai Tak airport.

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