We're getting well into the summer slowdown on the show now, best exemplified next week where in an original programme featuring twelve songs only four haven't been on the show before, and those are portrayed by a video, a Ruby Flipper routine and two exclusives, one of which didn't chart. Then it's a wiped show, then one with 11 performances of which five songs are new to the show, two of those being videos and one a Flipper. By the time we get to 26th August 1976 there's a complete clearout and it's all newly minted, and a really quite fascinating selection too. We'll get to that, I reckon, on 15th September 2011, but in the meantime there's some songs we're getting to know very well. Just the half hour in its original form this week, but even then more than half the records aren't new to the show.
David Hamilton's back in charge this week, in a T-shirt that shares a red hooped design with a cartoon swimming costume - white jeans too - and against quite some background noise. He has his own obsession to work through too, the Olympics giving him the opportunity to claim "some racing certainties", himself "for the high jump" and "plenty of discus". Except that doesn't work unless he's lapsed into pig latin. Is 'discus' meant to sound like 'discs'?
Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak
Ah! Now this is a way to break a show in, even if like so many it ended up falling short of the top 30. Such is their profile they've managed to get a backcloth of their logo up, while Lynott can get away with entirely mirrored shades that reflect the lot. Meanwhile the rest of the band get to amuse themselves, one cutaway showing Brian Robertson grinning manaically at Scott Gorham as they share a backing vocal mike. The audience react to rock by awkwardly moving very slightly quicker than usual. During the instrumental break the director decides he hasn't done much yet and as the camera pans from one side of the stage to the other he brings in a solar flare effect fading in and out to no great effect. Still, it's a day's work. Right at the end a man with similarly long hair walks to the side of the stage with arms folded. Why did they need a roadie? It's mimed on a single use TV soundstage!
Dr Hook – A Little Bit More
"A man who is a member of the medical profession but he is not a psychiatrist and it's not your mind he's interested in, it's your body". Such is Diddy's convoluted introduction to the hirsute and homoerotic video, as previously discussed. Really he's not a member of the medical profession at all, is he, he's just a carnival huckster. And it's not a 'he' either. "What a naughty man!" Diddy concludes afterwards, having only just been given prime evidence that it's several people.
The Chanter Sisters – Sideshow
Rum girl groups seem to be an occasionally recurring feature of these shows, and to prop up a week of songs we know all too well here's a pair for whom sophisticated style is other people. We've come across the song before, it was playout a couple of weeks ago, but actually seeing the none more rock'n'roll named Irene and Doreen brought home the fashion low comedy that has always hovered just under the surface of this repeat run. Irene sports a large curly perm and a dress seemingly made from some huge, unliked Christmas novelty curtains tied to a ribbon round her neck. Doreen has taken to the crimpers and has donned an all-in-one. She also favours the full-on hair flick during her solo dance, where she sways gallantly from the hips with feet planted to the floor while Irene is on vocal. She's clearly the more confident performer, giving it some enormous held notes, and certainly the more confident dancer given Irene seems to be mimicking the audience's own uncertainty. As if to compensate for unexpected vocal volume, after the instrumental break the soundman has clearly turned her mike down, only for her to come in at normal pitch for once and sound strangely distant. "Great! Fabulous!" Diddy says with no conviction before making a "flown over from Nashville/very hard on the arms" joke. They're British, by the way, why they'd need to fly over specially is unrecorded. The Sisters, should you wish to know, went on to sing backing vocals for everyone from Elton John to John Cale to Justin Hayward to the Undertones before Doreen split off to work with Bryan Ferry, sing in a chorus at The Secret Policeman's Ball and back Roger Waters, Meat Loaf and Van Morrison. She also wrote Kiki Dee's Star. And that's more than you ever hoped to know about Doreen Chanter.
Walter Murphy – A Fifth Of Beethoven
One of the issues always raised with Ruby Flipper is that Flick really had no idea what to do with the male members. By this stage, neither did the male members. This is one of those routines that has to be seen as words are not enough (it's on YouTube too, but with the soundtrack replaced at WMG's insistence) Basically it's intended as a Flipper leg show in tiny hotpants, crop tops and some sort of headwear with a feather on. What that means is we must look at it as anything but a sop to the dads, for instance to the air traffic control arm movements and the fact the whole thing is performed seated, which makes it look more like a music and movement class in overcoming collective limitations. Note how TOCG and Patti can hardly take their eyes off the camera (and the first closeup is of TOCG, despite her being the shortarse of the team, and she gets to work in some of her prime 'yeah, I know which one you're watching' faces) Of course the secondary routine, assuming we don't count the overuse of CSO completely different while parallel to the live action, is the switches between Philip and Floyd in the conductor's umpire hat, Einstein wig and big overcoat (overexcitable men in overcoats getting worked into a frenzy by underdressed young women? Did Mary Whitehouse know about this?), only for it to turn out they're both behind their own music stands. Philip, if you watch closely, does appear to be giving Floyd some in-character dagger looks, it's just we don't get to properly see them except in profile. The ending between the two is a welcome reminder that these were the days of high farce comedy.
Jimmy James & the Vagabonds – Now Is The Time
A new performance, and some people in the audience have brought scarves! Or toilet roll. Seems to be a similar density of material, in any case, and long enough to require three people holding them aloft. Such was the evident popularity of James and his far too high waisted mustard coloured trousers. If anything, his eye-popping routine in the breakdown is even more full-on.
Status Quo – Mystery Song
The video again. See Rick's open shirt in a very unmanly pattern! Watch Francis' hair in the indoor breeze, revealing a pair of mighty sideburns! This, of course, is the superior Mystery Song.
Liverpool Express – You Are My Love
Not the same as the previous two showings, as there were tight regulations on solarisation overuse. Instead our visual effect comes from the shape of the keyboard player's hat, pretty much Puritan in dimension. The guitarist has swapped his twelve string for something proper and some leather jackets have been broken in, but instead of being in a big open space they're hemmed in at the front and the comparative lack of comfort shows a little.
Elton John & Kiki Dee – Don’t Go Breaking My Heart
Oh, you know by now. Diddy revels in the detail they've "done the double - they're in the top ten in the States, they're number one across the nation in this country". In what way is that a) a quantifiable double and b) proper syntax at the end? Once the awkwardness has subsided, having referred to their being top "across the nation" for the third time in three sentences Diddy bades us farewell, in the style of a kids' presenter, with the Bee Gees' You Should Be Dancing and the news "we'll see you on Radio 1 tomorrow afternoon at 2 o'clock", which isn't accurate in either time or visual sense.