Without wanting to turn this into another blog foregrounding the narrative of changing times in 1977, it's worth noting that on the 26th March 1977 ITV's self-consciously hipper (though it wasn't really, three weeks before the star guests had been Slade and Paul Nicholas) Pops rival Supersonic featured Mr Big, Racing Cars, Guys And Dolls, Roy Harper, Cliff Richard, Dennis Weaver and this:
According to iPlayer, if you like TOTP77 "you may also like Songs Of Praise". I'm saying nothing.
Dave Lee Travis in extreme close-up. Some things are not meant for family audiences.
Brendon – Gimme Some
Having spotted their true USP from their debut appearance, their rundown photo features the wedding suited bass-playing youth front and centre. For his studio return he's dressed down to grey shirt and jeans, safe in the knowledge that tonight he gets to play in front of a drummer who looks even younger, as Brendon and his Keegan hair kicks off with some good old-fashioned clapping above the head. Whether Brendon thought he hadn't made the most of his opportunity first time round I can't say but his shirt is even further open tonight and he's miming into and gripping onto the mike like it's a buoyancy aid, some achievement when that involves extemporising lines like "I need me some sugar and your love is tea". Meanwhile one of the guitarists gurns unpleasantly and plays like he's Johnny Ramone while sporting a Rubettes cap. Well, they weren't using them any more.
Elkie Brooks – Pearl's A Singer
DLT, resplendent in a red T-shirt with Marilyn Monroe pictorial design, introduces "the lovely Elkie Brook". In TOTP world she just hadn't qualified for surname plurality yet. Beside a stage prop that resembles a peacock lost in an autumnal hedgerow Elkie croons gainfully while her band in full dickie-bowed, ruffled shirt formal dress, including a guitarist the spit of Denis Law, do their slow, subtle thing, the bassist seemingly only requiring one finger. Even at supper club speed a marauding camera mows half the front row down. Luckily the tracking shot wasn't required when Elkie and band break into proper jazzy mode, heralded by a pianist with a perm that would have got him into any contemporary funk band, a glorious goatee hanging over the end of the chin and a cardigan that can't have cost more than 75p from a dubious flea market. You're on telly, man! As the Richard Stilgoe-alike on keyboard switches to lustfully swiped tambourine in-house backing singers the Ladybirds make a rare screen appearance, though they only get to sing one line while actually on screen. Them's the breaks.
Brotherhood Of Man – Oh Boy (The Mood I'm In)
DLT pretends to faint at the end of his link. The girls surrounding him find it amusing. Simpler times. The look this time is all over the shop, the blokes in white shirts and medallions both playing guitars because THEY'RE NOT LIKE ABBA, ALRIGHT?, the girls in matching white overalls. To them, this was sophistication. To the viewer, their decorators' van is ready to whisk them away to another job the moment recording finishes. One of them starts with one hand in her pocket. By the chorus they're standing at ninety degree angles to each other. Not seen that anywhere else.
Graham Parker & The Rumour – Hold Back The Night
But first DLT has an announcement. "A lot of you people watching at home this evening would be expecting to see David Soul... unfortunately he's had to rush back to the States... of course we will be trying very hard to get him for you in the near future". David Soul never appeared in person on Top Of The Pops. (Unless he turned up for a quick chat, but then the likelihood is he'd have been asked to record something while he was there, so it seems not) Meanwhile this is a repeat, and it's a good thing too as just to squeeze the show into a 30 minute slot this was edited down... to 73 seconds. Cheers for coming, Graham. All together now - it's an appearance as short as he is.
Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jnr – You Don’t Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show)
"David Hamilton's theme tune" DLT claims. Oi, don't encroach on Tony's comedic patch! A video, or possibly a recording from an overseas programme, in which the couple sing their professional soul right at each other - well, they're a married couple - and we here note Davis looks like the surreal love child of Bo Selecta's Craig David mask and a negative of Tom Jones.
Dead End Kids – Have I The Right
DLT is flanked by two girls wearing T-shirts reading 'MOTORING UNIT BBC'. Nothing is explained, much less why one of them looks like the potential love child of Jimmy Savile and Laura Marling (who wasn't born for another thirteen years, so it's even more surprising) Dead End Kids is a tremendous '77 punk bandname, it's just it got swiped first by a band looking to fill the gap the Bay City Rollers (who they'd supported the previous year) hadn't quite left just yet - Scottish, young, delusions of rock chops. They ended up teen-glam after both concepts had long since left the frame of reference, which explains why they were one hit wonders. Singer Robbie Gray had clearly decided belts and braces was the look, making him look like a stereotypical 1970s football hooligan were it not for the night's latest voluminous perm. Throughout he holds a small mallet in his left hand, not for bludgeoning the front row if they look at him funny but for first banging against his thigh and then, when the time comes, for studiously 'playing' some tubular bells that continue being played after he's walked away following nine hits. That's the sort of thing that gets the teens running.
Smokie – Lay Back In The Arms Of Someone
As much as it seems they had a studio residency for these few months, this is merely a repeat.
Boney M – Sunny
"It's girlie time!" As usual when introducing Legs & Co DLT seems to be on the verge of doing himself a mischief, this time coupling his not quite comedic enough not to be convincing lasciviousness by proxy with a comedy northern accent. It even looks like he's making the male masturbatory gesture at the end. Still Gill-less, it's more standard hoofing in time is made in dresses possibly made from those strips of paper you get in kebab houses to seperate the counter and kitchen. Really it needs Bobby Farrell.
T-Rex – The Soul Of My Suit
We weren't to know it yet but this is the last we'd see of Marc Bolan on TOTP. He looks more imperial phase elfin-like then he did on his two 1976 showings but it's hard to tell which seems less fitting for prime Bolan, the yellow suit jacket or the keyboard player with a Scottish folkie beard, tracksuit top and Badly Drawn Boy hat. Once upon a time he'd have been given proper style pointers. Not to denigrate the whole thing, there's a fine crane shot from the back of the stage revealing both Dead End Kids' instruments still set up on the other stage and the actual paucity of audience numbers, and Bolan, still not yet (and indeed never) 30, has regained his charisma. He'd have been 65 this year. Imagine.
Manhattan Transfer – Chanson D'Amour
But before then DLT has special guests... The Captain & Tennille! What level of specialness this is is unclear as their biggest hit at this point had peaked at 28 and they wouldn't reach the top 40 again until 1979, but never mind, nice of them to drop in. The Captain has a captain's hat on and, bearing the permanently surprised look of latter day Brian Wilson. says he's on holiday "to look for a few captain's hats". Yeah, alright. Tennille's only contribution is to confirm that the pair got together in 1971, "a long time ago". Then it's the last week on top for this "magnificent piece of music" - his words - at number one, after which DLT does his piece on his knees claiming "a bezerk cameraman has attacked me". Not before time, if so. Sound And Vision, presently up to number three, again plays over the credits, and again the early edit cuts it off before the vocals.