Top of the Pops 1979 - 15.3.79

Shown on BBC4 
Review: Chris Arnsby
Peter Powell. "Turn the volume up! Turn the music up! Because it's Top of the Pops with the chart run down and Players Association!"
Chart music: The Players Association, Turn The Music Up [25]

The Jam: Strange Town [30]. Top of the Pops has a new look presumably courtesy of Roger Cann (he's credited with design); he also worked on the Doctor Who story Nightmare of Eden, and Eastenders, Kenny Everett, and an episode of Bergerac called The Deadly Virus which sounds exciting. The Jam perform in front of a black background and pulsing green lights. It looks ace and just as you think it can't get better the vision mixer makes the screen go negative and everything turns white and purple.

The Jam are not very impressed with the strange town

Lene Lovitch: [4]. It's time for the Quantel electronic effects showcase. The vision mixer is doing that thing where the picture looks like a succession of freeze frames. It really suits the tempo of the song. Lene Lovitch is also performing in front of a black background. Maybe this isn't a new look for the Top of the Pops studio. Are the BBC scenery shifters on strike? Lene Lovitch has been put on the world's smallest stage. It's a black wooden rostrum and there's only room for her and the two guitarists. The keyboard player has been exiled to the studio floor next to the dancing masses (and they are dancing, they really dig Lene) while the drummer is lost somewhere in the moving throng.
Toto: Hold The Line [18]. This is the Toto song where the guitar goes "daaah, dah, dah, dah, dah." Not to be confused with Africa their later song where the keyboard goes, "dah, dah, dah, da-da, dah, dah.

The Cars: Just What I Needed [20]. Live on video from Germany this performance comes from the Radio Bremen studios and a show called Der Musikladen. The performance area is tiny. You can tell from the restricted camera angles of the band and the serious microphony affecting the picture.

Chic: I Want Your Love [7].  Fade in: Int. The Top of the Pops Office -day. Producer Phil Bishop is talking to Jan Wright from the costume department. "Right, this week Legs & Co. are dancing to I Want Your Love by Chic. What are they going to wear?" "Well, the song's about love, and there's bells that sound a bit like church bells so I thought wedding dresses." *a thoughtful pause* "Won't that restrict their movement? How's Flick going to choreograph the standard groin thrusting and chest shaking?" *slowly but with rising excitement* "Okay... run with me on this. What if they wear wedding dresses for the slow chorus. It'll look dead classy.  Then they can do all the thrusting and writhing bits wearing tight body stockings!" "Excellent!" *the pair high five and make an anachronistic Bill and Ted electric guitar playing mime*.

Thin Lizzy: Waiting For An Alibi [15]. A repeat from the 1/3/79 edition.
Violinsky: Clog Dance [26]. Like Lene Lovitch's drummer and keyboard player Violinsky are on the studio floor, except for the violinist who has been put on another small rostrum. They're performing in front a bank of lights like the ones used for The Jam, but tinted blue. There's more Quantel tomfoolery as the output from one camera is shrunk into a small box, processed with the stuttering video effect, and moved around the screen. All at the same time! The lights in Television Centre must have dimmed to cope with the electricity needed for this technological tour de force.
The Skids: Into The Valley [13]. From the same show as Thin Lizzy. These repeat performances really show how little scenery is used in tonight's edition of Top of the Pops.

Herbie Hancock: You Bet Your Love [19]. Herbie goes wireless. In this promo video he swaggers around a dance floor wearing a head mounted microphone; which must be one of the earliest Top of the Pops sightings for this bit of kit. Less successful is the keyboard/shoulder strap combination which makes him look like an usher selling ice cream from a tray.

Black Lace: Mary Ann [NEW]. Britain's 1979 Eurovision entry.  Yes, it's that Black Lace. 1979 was the year for naming songs after people; Greece had a song called Socrates; Germany tried Genghis Khan, look it up on Youtube it's super and appears to be sung by Ming The Merciless and his cast of idiots; Norway went with a song called Oliver. Mary Ann ended the evening 17th out of 19. 
Number one: Gloria Gaynor, I Will Survive. If you change the lyric "weren't you the one who tried to crush me with goodbye," to "weren't you the one who tried to crush me with your thighs," it alters the tone of the song.

Closing titles: Queen, Don't Stop Me Now [22]. After a suitable cooling off period the Quantel box is stoked up again. The standard background to the closing titles,a pan across the lighting grid, is present but it's fed into Quantel, frame reduced, and output as a smaller box laid over the main picture, which is then frame reduced and output into the main picture as a smaller box... and so on and so on to infinity. Some of the resulting images look like, well, the 2001: A Space Odyssey star gate sequence on a BBC budget. I'll bet the Doctor Who production office were paying attention.
Performance of the week:  The Cars: Just What I Needed. Technically this shouldn't count. By my complicated self-defined rules I can only choose a new studio performance, and The Cars weren't in the Top of the Pops studio. But I'm not choosing Violinsky, or Black Lace, and I'm not all that keen on The Jam. So it's The Cars because they featured performing live on video, and also because it's a great song.

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