15/01/2014

Top of the Pops 79

Now showing on BBC4
Reviewed by Chris Arnsby




I'm back after a short break for Doctor Who's 50th anniversary and then Christmas. What's changed? Top of the Pops is now on BBC4 in high definition and the difference in picture quality is amazing. New presenter Mike Read joined back in November 1978 which means the 1980s are approaching and there's nothing any of us can do about it. Soon we'll have Margaret Thatcher, Swap Shop replaced with Saturday Superstore, fear of nuclear war, the banning of We All Stand Together by Paul McCartney & The Frog Chorus (for containing the lyrics "bum bum bum bum bum bum"), and ZX Spectrums. Also several years of Grange Hill will leave me terrified of going to Big School but that's another story. Let's rock!
BBC4: Top of the Pops 1979
Mike Read. "Welcome to the 15th anniversary edition of Top of the Pops and we're looking forwards to some great music in 1979."
Chart music: Paul Evans: Hello, This Is Joanie (The Telephone Answering Machine Song) [24]

Generation X: King Rocker [NEW] Billy Idol's wearing an iron cross. I wonder if anyone complained? The audience aren't any more lively in 1979 but a couple of them pogo furiously when they realise the camera is on them.

Generation X: They could sing and smoke at the same time. Unfortunately with the shades they had no idea where they were so had to glue themselves together.




Elton John: Song For Guy [5]. Good grief how long is this introduction? *goes and checks Wikipedia*. Oh, it's a largely instrumental song written the day after Guy -a messenger boy- was killed on his motorcycle. Well now I feel bad. (Ed: I thought it was about a gorilla? Perhaps the gorilla was also a messenger.)

Earth Wind & Fire: September [18]. Legs & Co's first routine of the new year is pretty by the numbers. Roger Cann, designer, has hung some sheets of perspex from the ceiling. This would look great except that the studio lights illuminate all the scratches and dirt and make the set look tatty and less space age than might be hoped. At the back of the set the studio audience stand and glower like the Kryptonian floating heads in Superman. Will they pronounce Legs & Co guilty?

Ian Dury & The Blockheads: Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick [6]. Why couldn't Legs & Co have danced to this? They could have all carried different kinds of sticks. Hockey sticks, pogo sticks, walking sticks, gear sticks... stick insects. Interesting to hear Ian Dury change the traditional Bingo call "two fat ladies" into "two fat persons". Alternative comedy would later make political correctness like that its own, so it stands out to find it here months before the opening of The Comedy Store in May 1979.  

Olivia Newton-John: A Little More Love [21]. "No's a word I can't say," says Newton-John although the word no is littered throughout this song. If she'll lie about that then she'll lie about anything.

Racey: Lay Your Love On Me [3]. Racey haven't thought through their stage layout. They've rehearsed a little dance for the instrumental bits but then they've gone and put the drummer at the front of the stage. The drum set blocks the view of your dance Racey. All that hard work is wasted.

Barry White: Just The Way You Are [29]. "And now the big man Barry White attacks Billy Joel in his own inimitable style," claims Mike Read. Disappointingly this means Barry White sings a Billy Joel song. Who wouldn't rather see Barry White chopping Billy Joel in the face with a Flying Elbow before Body Slamming him to the floor and chanting "easy, easy, easy," at the startled audience.
 
Brotherhood of Man: Goodbye, Goodbye [NEW]. Bland.

Number One: Village People, Y.M.C.A. The song's great (obv.) but ignore that and look at the background of New York. It's a fantastic dump. At one point when the Village People are dancing by the river there's what looks like an enormous semi-collapsed warehouse behind them. At the end of the promo film the band dance in front of the Ramrod club. Assuming the riverside location is somewhere nearby then the warehouse must have been in Newport or Hoboken.

Closing titles: Hot Chocolate, I’ll Put You Together Again [16].

Performance of the week:  Ian Dury & The Blockheads: Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
 

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