Top of the Pops 79: 19/7/79

Shown on BBC4
Reviewed by Chris Arnsby
Kid Jensen. "Good evening, and a good welcome to all that's best in the chart in this week's Top of the Pops."
Chart music: The Sex Pistols, C’mon Everybody [3].

The Real Thing: Boogie Down (Get Funky Now) [50]. Lined up prominently behind The Real Thing is a gaggle of uncool musicians. Could this be the brass section of the Top of the Pops orchestra? It's a month since the orchestra was last shown accompanying McFadden & Whitehead on the 14/7/79 edition. Once again they get some good close-ups, hopefully proving to any watching Musician's Union representatives that Top of the Pops remains committed to its union agreements.

Dave Edmunds: Girls Talk [4]. A promo film shot on the roof of a building in New York. Here's a fun game; try and recreate the view in Google Earth to work out exactly where Dave Edmunds is standing. I've wasted the last hour attempting this and it's left me cross-eyed and borderline insane.

Donna Summer: Bad Girls [22]. What sort of girls are bad girls? Why prostitutes of course! So this week Legs & Co are dressed as streetwalkers; sexy tasteful prime time BBC1 streetwalkers. They give an early display of pole dancing on a set decorated by five wobbly lamp posts, each with red bulb natch. The small dog carried on stage by Lulu  at the start of the set appears to get through the entire routine without disgracing itself despite the twin temptations of lamp posts and a fire hydrant.

Darts: Duke Of Earl [42]. Quantel wizardry at the start of this Darts performance. In fact, a round of applause for what I think is the first Top of the Pops appearance of something which will go on to be a standard effect in later years; the screen divided into quarters with the output of a different camera in each quarter.

U.K. Subs: Stranglehold [26]. The nicely brought up Top of the Pops audience would like to cut loose to this fun but bog standard slice of punk. Unfortunately they are too well behaved to pogo so instead they jiggle on the spot and the studio appears to be full of people who really need to go to the toilet. The exception is one person on the far side of the stage who's gone berserk after eating an entire packet of Toffos. Sitting on a friend's shoulders they sways backwards and forwards waving their arms excitedly. How vulgar. This is not a place for fun and merriment this is Top of the Pops.

The Pretenders: Kid [38]. Top of the Pops goes all arty as producer David G. Hiller gets the camera crew to have a go at adding some depth of field and focus pulls to the visuals. It fits the mood of the song really well. There's obviously a restriction on production staff appearing on screen. As a camera pans along the stage the operator of camera 2 can be glimpsed briefly. He must receive an order to get out of shot through his headphones because he suddenly ducks out of frame; although not quickly enough to be unnoticed.

The Knack: My Sharona [24]. Quantel is used at the end of Kid to shrink the picture down into a small square which is then cross-faded into My Sharona, and then the square expands back up to full screen. Top of the Pops could only manage half this transition last week (expanding the picture back to full screen was done as a standard wipe) so it's interesting to see how quickly they've perfected this technique.

Sparks: Beat The Clock [49]. "Now I saw the room clearly in all its horror and inhuman geometry.  I saw the shuddering mob which moved and circled and pressed and whirled. And at the centre of it all the hideous gaze of Ron Mael. The eye. The giant eye! It watches for us all! May G-d have mercy upon me for under its gaze I joined that mob of the d-mned, and now I also am d-nmed. We are all d-mned." [here the writing grows indistinct].

The Boomtown Rats: I Don’t Like Mondays [15]. The first 1979 appearance of The Boomtown Rats on Top of the Pops; after She's So Modern, Like Clockwork, and Rat Trap in 1978. I Don't Like Mondays is the go-to song for most people when they think of The Boomtown Rats so it's odd to listen to it in context and realise how unlike their earlier songs it sounds. Production nerds should note the use of film for the zoom in on the farmhouse at the start of the promo while the everything else is recorded on videotape.

Abba: Finding themselves with nothing to wear, the girls used the hotel curtains

The Dooleys: Wanted [10]. How do The Dooley's do what they do to me? I wish I knew. If I knew how The Dooleys do it to me I'd do it to The Dooleys. Whisper it softly but the Coelacanth's of pop have evolved. Someone's played them an Abba album and the two female backing singers have replaced the too pleased with himself lead singer; now relegated to keyboard where he still looks too pleased with himself under a vile perm.

The Korgis: If I Had You [25]. A weedy love song. A red jumper wearing audience member is infinitely more interested in checking himself out on the studio monitors than watching the band; which seems like the right response. (Ed: I have to intercede here and point out that this is actually a lovely song. And the red jumper is horrible!)

Abba: Voulez-Vous [23]. Abba are in the disco for this promo film. The line "masters of the scene," in this song reminds me of the Seinfeld line "master of my domain."

Number One: Tubeway Army, Are ‘Friends’ Electric? A couple of times the surly teenage mask drops and Gary Numan can't keep the grin off his face.

Closing titles: Chic, Good Times [5].

Performance of the week: The Pretenders: Kid


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