Top of the Pops 1979 - 1.3.79

  Watched by Chris Arnsby on BBC4

Mike Read. "Hello and welcome to the musical action on this week's Top of the Pops. Let's take a ride up the charts with Cars."
Chart music: The Cars, Just What I Needed [29].

The Skids: Into The Valley [20]. Fred White, Lighting, tries something different at the start of this performance. He's got some big white lights (maybe those Super Troupers Abba kept going on about) mounted on the floor at the side and back of the stage. A camera fitted with a star filter pans round the stage and the light shines directly into the camera lens. As an effect it doesn't quite work because white light also needs to be poured on from the front to counter the back light and this makes the set look flat and dull.
The Skids: The guy at the back wonders what is making his bandmates so miserable

Gloria Gaynor: I Will Survive [4]. With the skipping of a D*v* L** Tr*v*s edition we're presented with two back to back songs also seen last week. No ghastly electronic rainbow frame this week, instead the vision mixer superimposes a few studio lights onto the opening moments of the promo film. I guess he thinks it looks pretty.

Thin Lizzy: Waiting For An Alibi [46]. As the camera pans across the studio Phil Lynott carefully angles his guitar and reflects light into the camera lens; it looks brilliant. He pulled the same trick last year when he was performing Rosalie. Phil Lynott knows how to get the attention of the camera; he's such a ham.

Gary's Gang: Keep On Dancin’ [23]. The cut of Legs and Co's tops and skirts reminds me of air hostesses, but for some reason they are all also wearing veils on their hats. Candelabras hang from the ceiling for that additional baffling touch of class.

Queen: Don't Stop Me Now [28]. An astonishingly grotty promo film. Every time there's an edit dirty great white lines appear at the top and bottom of frame. Everyone's dressed up for filming. Freddie's in black leather, Roger's looking natty in green and red, and Brian's going for Avon from Blake's 7 (the hair's all wrong, Brian). But oh dear, John's wearing a sensible shirt, jeans, and the tank top his nan gave him for his birthday. This is why you only get two close-ups John.

Chic: I Want Your Love [25]. A great song but I've failed utterly to think of anything to write; this sentence is the blog equivalent of those songs which suddenly have nothing but "la la la la" where a verse should be.

Violinski: Clog Dance [40]. This song is quietly driving me nuts. It's one of those I-haven't-heard-this-song-for-35-years-so-how-come-I-can-remember-each-key-change tracks. It's an instrumental track so it's probably cropped up over the years as backing music on umpteen television programmes. (Ed: Some of them were ex-members of ELO)

Lene Lovich: Lucky Number [8]. A third song from last week. I'm now not convinced that those pigtails are actually real.

Boney M: Painter Man [26]. A promo film for one of Boney M's lesser known, but still great, songs. Dressed in warm winter clothing the quartet dance around outside a log cabin on a misty mountainside.

David Essex: Imperial Wizard [55]. I thought this was David Essex's first appearance on Top of the Pops since Oh What A Circus last autumn. Actually he was on in November with a song called Goodbye First Love; no, I don't remember it either. I have no idea what Imperial Wizard is about but whatever it is, it's something David Essex seems cross about.

Number one: Bee Gees, Tragedy.  The Bee Gees don't do Top of the Pops so Legs and Co are required. Naturally they are all done up as sad clowns. It's actually one of their better routines. There's some complicated business with a single chair which is passed around so Legs and Co can strike suitably tragic attitudes; including getting shot at one point. Flick Colby loses some points for the nose-holding knees-bending move which accompanies the line "in a world of tears I slowly drown."

Closing titles: The Sex Pistols, Something Else [24].

Performance of the week: Thin Lizzy: Waiting For An Alibi.

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