"It's your weekly shot of rhythm and rock" enthuses Kid Jensen, which seems a very Americanised way of putting it, especially as in his white jacket and big collared stripy shirt he seems to be dressed as an airmail letter. There's a slow clearout process going on in the top 30, though Barry Biggs is still about, the best of the new pictures being the O'Jays looking like trainee gangsters.
Graham Parker & The Rumour – Hold Back The Night
Not punk yet, no, but pub rock's still pulling at populism's coat tails. Admittedly this is Parker's soul/Van Morrison leanings rather than wiry Feelgoods pub rock, but it's all heading somewhere. Seems slightly desperate to be covering this, though, the Trammps had only sent it to number five sixteen months earlier so there was no great call for him to be resuscitating a lost classic or family favourite. It doesn't help matters that Parker is wearing shades, is tiny (unless the Rumour's guitarists are all medical giants, which I doubt) and is doing a lot of double fist pumping before the vocals start. When he does start singing, he seems to have retroactively borrowed the voice of Craig Finn from The Hold Steady, despite being from a different continent. He's big on arm movements to exude the lyrics further, the title always, always getting the outstretched palm. And what is he mouthing during the bridge? Can't work out if it's proposed new lyrics, the sax or electric keyboard solo expressed through the larynx or trying to remind himself of how the next bit goes. "What an exciting debut!" Kid makes sure to exude.
The Real Thing – You’ll Never Know What You’re Missing
"What a good week it's been for Liverpool, what with John Conteh" I like the period detail, don't you? For the record he'd defended his WBC light-heavyweight title for the fourth and last time against one Len Hutchins with a third round TKO. You don't get boxers called Len Hutchins any more, do you? As well as doing a lot of smiling to himself Eddie's gone for Zapata moustache in the works and hairline headband, while his bandmates have gone to the usual lengths of the laundry basket - red T-shirt and dungarees, fringed jacket over bare chest and what seems to be a dark blue apron. Any port in no storm at all.
Brotherhood Of Man – Oh Boy (The Mood I'm In)
Kid calls theirs "a change in style" even though they barely had a style to begin with, they were one hit wonders to this point whose only proper idea was a twist ending. This is their British Abba (But With The Blokes Singing And Not Playing Instruments Or Being Much Use To Anyone) relaunch, checkered alternating outfit colours the style plus neckerchiefs for the women.
Smokie – Lay Back In The Arms Of Someone
At least Kid admits they're "always" on the show, but you can't say they're moving on in the same way as BoM. The bassist has bought himself white flares and a home perming kit on an apparent mission to look like a future 70s stereotype and Chris Norman's lapels might be made out of Axminster but otherwise it's earnest acoustic melodic rock all the way. Right at the end of what seems to be a truncated version everyone ignores the physical probabilities and tries to go back to back on the instrumental break. It doesn't really work. As Kid prepares to tell us "I think that's just about the best 45 they've ever made" we briefly see a black man in a fedora, shades and smart suit and tie with buttonhole white carnation, so . Had he turned up at the wrong address?
Barbara Dickson – Another Suitcase In Another Hall
Just to confuse modern viewers, and probably a lot of contemporary viewers too, Kid remarks on how Dickson "has come a long way since the days of John, Paul, George, Ringo... and Bert". Kid's in an easy to please mood, he states it's his favourite song from Evita, and just for him Barbara's brought her guitar to fill the instrumentation gap where the harp from the first performance went. Still nobody to sing the male part, which makes her look like she's throwing a strange voice at the very end.
The Rubettes – Baby I Know
"Last time I was on Top Of The Pops I introduced the new single from the Rubettes and I said it would get to number one. Well, it's not far off this week, it's at number eleven!" Kid follows this with the kind of fixed smile that one can only attain when one has said something of that leap of logical faith on prime-time national television of their own volition. One strange thing given we'll never need to hear this again soon, as much of a grower as it is (just me? Oh alright then) The Rubettes didn't change their sound and look overnight, the one time we saw them in 1976 they were heading in a country direction anyway, but nobody's told whoever was in charge of the chart rundown as it's still using a picture of the band in smart jackets and two, including front and centre Alan Williams, in cloth caps. Also there's still five of them pictured, which means someone's not paying attention. This is curtailed by the single worst cut-to-black edit in the whole run so they can keep in two songs that were on the last Pops while cutting out the week's, and maybe month's, most interesting newcomer to the running order. Why bother, eh?
Electric Light Orchestra – Rockaria
Video again, still no room for Jeff's specific vision on the Pops stage.
Mary McGregor – Torn Between Two Lovers
A Gill-less Legs & Co with rather too little literalism this week. No duality, no switching from one side/emotion to the other, no general expression of feeling like a fool, just a lot of twirling and crouching down in Quality Street wrapper dresses because the song is too slow to really do much with.
Brendon – Gimme Some
"If you go to discotheques regularly here's a tune you'll have undoubtedly been tapping your toes to recently". Kid, I don't think people go to discos to tap their toes. Just a friendly word of advice. Brendon, a man with a full Keegan perm, is clearly aimed at Stardust Club - International Singing Talent And Chicken In A Basket Served All Night rather than Wigan Casino, given his song is chiefly the title shouted over a watery glam beat. The well dressed theme of the night continues with the young bassist, who in contrast to the neatly patterned shirts of the guitarists must have been sent out by his mum as there's no good reason for him to don not just a grey suit but a matching waistcoat. Wouldn't be surprised to find he's got a pocket watch on a chain on him too. Our fedora'd friend, despite being right at the back, is really going for his dance moves.
Manhattan Transfer – Chanson D'Amour
Ra-ta-ta-ta-ta! "Manhattan Transfer Company", as Kid calls them for some reason, are on video, in costume and responsive to clearly canned applause after the first line. They've got a band with them, Laurel Masse ordering "play it, boys!" like a jazz singer with ambitions. Elton John's Crazy Water sees us out. Kid sees us off with an extravagant Going For Gold opening titles-like wave and - let's not let a single mention of this attempt at a catchphrase go unnoticed - "goodbye and good love".
EDIT NEWS: Lynsey De Paul & Mike Moran's Rock Bottom, maybe cut for being the longest song on the show and it will be on again but... I so wanted to see the reaction from the prime-time crowd to this. A year after Brotherhood Of Man brought the Eurovision party home, this back to back duelling piano jazz chords duet about working together against the failing economy - hey, timely too - was offered up as our continental representative. In its own way, this was as far from the pop mainstream as New Rose.