Fourth last retained show before Christmas, but it looks like Noel has been a little ahead of schedule by surrounding himself with big sacks. Oh, no, it's the other possible gag: "tonight's programme is dedicated to everyone who wanted me to get the sack".
Steve Miller, who we'll see later, gets a cutout that doesn't work in two dimensions, pointing the guitar head right at camera as he is. It's almost as alarming as the Pipe Smoker Of The Year Lalo Schifrin.
Showaddywaddy – Under The Moon Of Love
Since we last saw the 'waddy, in the real world singer Dave Bartram has retired and secondary frontman Buddy Gask has died, so consider this a tribute. The canned applause at the end of the countdown completely masks Romeo Challenger's big kettle drum intro, surely revival rockabilly's most exciting moment that doesn't involve Den Hegarty. There's a big concept to this one as it's been recorded twice, once in white suits, once in black suits, the former the default but with clips of the latter being cut in gradually more often. It's a neat method of confusion, not that a stage full of faux-Teds in Daz-sparkling suits really needs more visual gimmickery to stand out. Bartram makes an appealing frontman, lots of side looks to camera and for the bridge getting down on his knees on the lip of the stage so as to greater appeal to the girls who it turned out rarely returned the compliment in awestruckness terms, but they'd got to find something for the two auxiliary members to do other than BVs, handclaps and turning in circles. Everyone, after all, is already doing that step-forward-step-back thing. Lots of tipping of the shot to the side too, which we haven't seen since Dancing With The Captain, appropriately given in conjunction with the band's perpetual motion it threatens seasickness. Eventually Bartram sits on the front of the stage and then does so in black too, which spoils the impression of in-the-moment improvisation. As a crowning coda Challenger gives the timpani one last double whack after the playback has finished. That natural reverb goes a long way.
The Manhattans – Hurt
"The sound in the chart with the big deep voice at the beginning - no, not Lena Zavaroni!" Girls behind Noel actually laugh. One falls off a small ledge in mirth. He's found his level at last. Just nobody mention that Zavaroni was going to have had all the chart success she'd have by mid-1974. This video in all its overhead spotlit, dragging nature was on back in October. It feels longer, actually.
Steve Miller Band – Rock 'N' Me
Those sacks? They seem to contain a lot of letters of potential names for what Noel pointedly refers to as "our new all lady dancing group". In fact "you've ruined it, totally ruined it" - us, Noel? The problem is at your end, surely, if you can't find time to read and weight up all the suggestions. Leaving the announcement to "DLT next week" - yeah, about that... - he instead bids "see you next week for that announcement", which seems undue of him. For their third week of nameless wondering the girls are lost in a fog of dry ice amid a song that (knowingly) rips off the intro to All Right Now. Some patented strutting, shimmying and smiling follows in tops and skirts of a variety of lengths and glitteriness. Gill and Pauline get to do some backwards back arching work but in truth it all looks a bit of a mess of routines. Now, I got this wrong last week, but getting a bit of a solo at the end as everyone else retreats mysteriously into the gloaming... that is Patti, isn't it?
The Who – Substitute
This is fascinating for all sorts of reasons. Firstly, Noel is correct in saying the live footage shown is from their gig at Charlton Athletic's The Valley, but it's the show from 1974 rather than that from May 1976 that set a longstanding record for the world's loudest gig (and from which this marvellous piece of Moon/Townshend exchanging of views comes). In fairness Noel doesn't give a year so maybe he'd hoped nobody would look it up. Secondly, what's it doing back in the charts anyway? To promote The Story Of The Who, in fact, and perhaps latch onto that aforementioned gig. Thirdly, it doesn't seem the clip is that well circulated. Even to a BBC considerably better off than it is now when it's reduced to putting 35 year old stupid pop show repeats on its arts and learning channel, how much must it have cost to clear?
Bonnie Tyler – Lost In France
Noel's keen to mention Bonnie is from South Wales; I'm keen to mention that the hexagon backdrop has been redesigned so it looks even more Holnessised to our modern eyes. Can't work out if the lights coming back from its surface are CSO or reflections. Bonnie's enjoying herself alone on stage , which is far more that her audience are visibly doing. Noel, even by his own standards, is stretching things: "She obviously went Toulon, went to Rouen, Paris the thought". Nobody laughs at that.
Tavares – Don't Take Away The Music
The glittery bolero/matador jackets and even more dry ice than Legs & Co got are back.
Climax Blues Band – Couldn't Get It Right
Noel lets on that he'd only just found out that they're British, though in fairness otherwise would be your first impression. He then calls the song Couldn't Get It Wrong, because he's a wit. It's a new performance, as shown by the singer's heavy five o'clock shadow and a new band logo sign right behind the drummer's head. The letters flicker with lights! Though that may be visual editor majick, actually, as shown when the cardboard star for some reason attached to the bass changes shade. A group of kids near the back shuffle self-consciously in an attempt to look hip, grin and then just turn round and watch the monitor instead. At the end one of them, and someone else across the other side of the crowd, wave at the crane camera. Yes, we can see you.
Before we get to number one, Noel has guests of some standing joining him by those kettle drums. Terry Kath, Peter Cetera and Danny Seraphine of Chicago, in fact, whom Noel soft soaps by going on about how their number two sound should be number one. Behind his back Peter is doing lots of pointing that he imagines is self-effacing. Noel's interview technique makes Jools Holland seem like David Frost, starting with asking the wrong person what inspired the song ("experience") and then failing to get anything of note out of anyone. Noel consciously mentions jet lag. Not sure that's the half of it.
Pussycat – Mississippi
It's right at the end of their little chat that the real gold comes as the music starts, maybe out of producer blind panic, and we get the sight of Kath, a large man, starts dancing. I say 'dancing', he kind of bends at the knee while air guitaring and making an appropriate face, one part meaningful to at least four parts downright mocking. The director cops out and cuts to a close-up of Noel's face lest the moment of a fourth week at number one (for a song placename "nowhere near Chicago") be spoilt by his full move set. God knows it would have been far more entertaining than that video again.