Quick poll - should I migrate the On This TOTP Day feature from Twitter to here? It might get in the way of recaps and such business, but it means I can fill the detail out and pre-schedule a load in advance.
This week's show, then. As we know from when the relevant week's TV listings were featured here it's DLT hosting, and... well, let's save the rest of the preamble for a moment.
Can – I Want More
The anatomy of performance:
0:03 Is he playing us with that pause for digestion - he definitely ends up spitting crumbs out - or has he not thought this concept through? Choose your answer carefully and within knowledge of who we're talking about here.
0:04 Notice that his tank top has 'DLT - RADIO ONE' in the pattern. Someone knitted and sent him that out of goodwill.
0:13 Jeffrey Daniel, surely?
0:17 Must have been some dissolution in the ranks the day that photographer came round.
0:57 So the first thing to point out, apart from how for the unprepared this must be quite a frightening sight, is that isn't actually guitarist Michael Karoli. In fact nobody in the corners of the web that you'd think might know seems to know who it is. It's not Lou Reed either.
0:59 For all the centrally positioned camera time he's about to get because the band probably misled the director at rehearsals he's a bit tentative, whoever he is, he's been given a mike but never uses it. All four proper members are officially credited with backing vocals with no given lead, so it's only fitting.
1:01 Clearly wants to mark his territory, though, I can't recall seeing that prominent an amp before on this run.
1:03 Meanwhile Holger Czukay is wearing the colour of trouser that we well know is very much in this (autumn 1976) season.
1:13 Look, they've even taped a note to his mike stand. Chord charts?
1:22 He's even set 'his' pedal board up.
1:28 So now the director's going to let loose on them, this red saturation effect direct from contemporary Dr Who invasion scenes used when the director gets bored of the men standing a little too far away from each other for single shot comfort, which is often.
1:40 OSTENTATIOUS AMP SETTINGS FIDDLING. Followed by a power chord, just to make sure.
1:49 Are there warnings for the colourblind attached to this? Are there heck.
1:56 First swing towards the crowd, and doubtless the first "what is this?" thought bubble.
1:58 Look at the stage and stop chewing, you.
2:06 A hell of a swinging rostrum camera shot, circumnavigating the front of the stage and those few people who turned up to see this recording five (!) weeks earlier in eight seconds flat. Must have been a specially brought in expert, Ken Morse himself possibly, the regular TOTP team would have decapitated at least four of them trying that. Followed by some frantic work on the camera cuts.
2:44 Now he's positively hokey-cokeying on 'his' pedals.
2:55 The very moment the director realises our guitar hero's not going to be involved and he might have been sold a pup.
3:28 She's easily distracted, isn't she? Watch for the moment of lurking cameraman realisation.
3:39 Intrigued by the odd noises coming from next door to rehearsals for that year's Porridge Christmas special, Richard Beckinsale sneaks in. Watch the girl with Cherry-length hair next to him, she's really freaking out to that funky disco-kraut sound.
3:44 So instead we pan to some newly flashing scenery. The glamour.
3:47 Oh, he's got his eye in now for taking plausibility on his instrument to the limit.
And so, some sort of moment. Had they kept it in the early version first time round you'd have seen Noel tell us "we were going to have them at the beginning of the show but you can't have a Can opener". Five '76 weeks later he gets proven wrong and with some casual viewer-wrongfooting style. DLT, just to seal it, forgets to back-announce them. Maybe there are people confused to this day as to what it was. Or they guessed a name, taken pot luck and bought Tago Mago (someone on Twitter claimed to us to have done so), in which case the best of British to them.
Randy Edelman – Uptown, Uptempo Woman
So why the food-based humour, Dave? "I've been working so 'ard on the show today they haven't given me a lunch break!" You've been working on the show, DLT? What's semi-permanent newish producer Brian Whitehouse been contributing? This, anyway, will be a theme, but not before "a gentleman who's sure to be number one in a few short weeks", again demonstrating the powers of prediction for which the presenters have become legendary - it peaked at 25. Edelman, who gets to play his white piano in the tight round, looks and dresses like Brian Conley's spoof kids' presenter and thinks a wider British audience would be interested in a New York-referencing song about falling in love and then splitting up with a woman of a higher class which doesn't have a punchline, or point, or reason to continue on the same track given it's signalled its final intentions by the halfway mark. The first verse hasn't finished by the time most of those around him have started moving to a much faster tempo in their heads which just looks odd as the rostrum camera circumnavigates the piano lid. Smithers, have Randy Newman killed.
Sherbet – Howzat
DLT's eating a banana. "I've brought this on to mention that when I was a kid I used to enjoy dipping a banana in a certain substance. Now that certain substance is all over the stage behind me." What is he on about? Is it a euphemism made all the more horrible by who's delivering it? So that's your welcome to this country, Australia's Sherbet, with your 10cc pretensions and your song which will be played all the time come the invention of Twenty:20 with its chorus that seems to be in a different key and tempo to the rest of the song. The singer seems to be dressed as a 1970s wrestler in blue ringmaster jacket and plunging neckline waistcoat-cum-unitard, while the drummer has the most elaborate tom-tom setup you'll see. Piled up the side, they are.
The Ritchie Family – The Best Disco In Town
DLT's drinking a capuccino, and obviously has froth on his nose and beard. Sherbet's guitarist is just caught before the lighting change looking across out of equal parts hope and pity. As regular readers may have spotted this is Cherry's last stand and she's being sent off not with the song, which is perhaps the first medley to trouble us duly only that nobody really knew what they were or how to do it so it just sounds like some people chucking phrases in, but with a special costume effort, as in she's the only one permitted a bra top where everyone else is given full coverage. Oh, they knew their audience alright. Flick's drilled them on the routine too, a sparse stage and familiar songs giving a free ride. Not so well off are the costumiers, who've given everyone cream outfits, squaw skirts for the girls, combat trousers for the boys and colour-coded cowboy boots all round but with lots of ribbons, bits of cloth, bits of wool and things you find hanging up in Chinese restaurants attached for no reason other than to fly about and get in the way. Obviously Cherry gets plenty of prominent screen time, including the crucial final solo, but note Floyd's two solo spots, perhaps to make up after all his family and friends saw the previous week's show.
Tina Charles – Dance Little Lady Dance
DLT has a box of chocolates. This "lovely little package" - yes, he goes there - has an absolute unflattering tent of a dress on and an absolute unflattering song to work through, especially when she seems to call her paramour a "cooker". If he is it's the wrong host for his purposes this week. She also looks like a nervous Rebecca Front, but that's by the by. She's certainly not the surest of performers, unlike the orchestra's flautist and wah-wah pedal guitarist, who seem keen to get their union subs this week. Charles, lest we forget, was the original (uncredited) vocalist in 5000 Volts, and indeed despite our woman/men and their errant talkbox most knowledgeable sources suggest that hit was a fluke and they never recovered from Charles' departure. Everything comes back to 5000 Volts round here. It's like a very limited Six Degrees Of Seperation.
Jesse Green – Nice And Slow
DLT has a chicken leg that looks like he had to fish it out from the back of the sofa. "Now they're trying to kill me with a camera!" he moans as the crane comes nowhere near him. This is a repeat of something I had nothing to say about first time, bar the eventual failure of Van McCoy-style disco flute to last the course. Thing is, this is Nice And Slow's fourth appearance on the show plus an instrumental play at the end, so had two not been wiped this frankly nondescript piece of flute-disco fluff would have become as ubiquitous as 5000 Volts. That's odd, as of the songs that have been on the show so often thus far ver Volts had a slow climb and a reputation from I'm On Fire and Mud were a popular band on the show catching the zeitgeist before it fled them forever. This was Green's first hit and while he had a couple more top 30 singles he never really did anything again - this peaked at 17 and is on this week after a surprise one-off rebound to 23. How out of character is this? He's listed on Wiki as 'Jesse Green (reggae music)', which reveals he drummed for the Pioneers (Long Shot Kick De Bucket, Let Your Yeh Be Yeh) and Jimmy Cliff. Strange business all round.
Demis Roussos – When Forever Has Gone
Finally, the punchline. DLT has a full dinner service with wine, grapes, a candle, the works. According to his version of events the BBC for some reason treating him even though he's been wolfing down food and drink all half hour. "Actually, the truth is they're trying to impress our next guest because..." Because he's a great big fat bloke who might have seen the odd full table spread in his time, Dave? Brave given he's in the studio and with not much of an audience this week it's not so far for him to travel and smash your face in for the perceived slight, and we won't be trying to hold him back for more than the radial reasons. "...he's used to all this high flung living". Caught it. What's high flung mean? Demis makes some sort of noise-cum-comment in the background here but we can't catch what exactly it is, especially as it seems to come with reverb. He's doing the service of not looking DLT's way upon being introduced, which must mean something. In his voluminous purple kaftan at one point he's superimposed on shots from above (which seems to be off a mirror, it's not a monitor), from the back and close up from the side. Basically, they're not quite sure how to direct it. His all-embracing posture at the end is one of a thankful man still willing us to take him to our collective hearts. It's at this point that things go so far beyond the pale they may as well come back round and start from the beginning again, as DLT has now donned his own massive purple smock and over the still full layout shouts the dread words "Demis? Come over here, darlin'!" Two men in large beards and large kaftan/robes next to an open candle flame is asking for trouble, or at least a related gag. What we get is the pair of them sharing a glass of "our lovely British plonk, Chateau BBC 1914" - he's Greek, DLT, don't start making oblique jokes and expecting him to comprehend - before, with inevitability aforethought, Dave asks Demis what goodbye is in his native language and then attempts to copy his pronunciation. Demis has the good grace to chuckle.
ABBA – Dancing Queen
Seems a bit of a letdown now, this. It's been number one long enough, for starters. But finally they've found a proper copy of the video, which proves Anni-Frid could do proper moves and choreography if she wanted.