"Time to bop with the best in rock and pop" Say this for Jensen, he goes that extra yard to make his intros stand out. In the background what seems to be the keyboard player with our first act of the evening tries to mime along with the end of his spiel before Kid triumphantly punches the air as final visual punctuation, a la Diddy.
If ever a smile said "I don't really understand what I'm doing here or supposed to be smiling about, but..."
Suzi Quatro – Roxy Roller
Mixed in emerging from the centre of the number one picture, which is a new one. Suzi would be given big billing by Pops for a little while yet, and it'd pay off eventually, but for now it's another, unsuccessful go-round with the glam sound. For some reason the drummer starts with his foot on top of the bass drum, making the kit look children's sized until he realises that's not really a good enough angle to play more than the snare from. Suzi for her part, in a powder blue jumpsuit, is sitting cross-legged on a box at the front of the stage, singing down to the camera, which just means she looks like she's wearing a distracting huge crown of lights until the angle changes to one lengthways on. Eventually Suzi gets up like her music teacher would have told her to, straps on the big bass and... contributes? Well, she plays the instrumental break bit while standing on the box, sadly stepping down rather than take a showbiz flying leap. The director finds Kid a second or two too early at the end, finding him in the midst of some enthusiastic arm swinging to the beat.
Heatwave – Too Hot To Handle
On grainy video with flames superimposed over the top, like someone saw the Bohemian Rhapsody version with flames at the start and took the wrong bit of inspiration. The band seem to be wearing kimonos with individual colour patterns taking up only half the outfit, as if they were meant to stand side to side and make subtitles for the Chinese. Halfway through, and it's not clear for reasons I'll come back to for a later performance whether these were added at the BBC end or not, very bright flashing lights appear in the middle of the screen of a contrast that might have blown out the RGB settings of colour sets of the time. They seem intrusively bright enough on HD. As the video cuts out one of the frontmen is into full-on karate moves. Kid finds it understandably hilarious.
Linda Lewis – The Moon And I
Why Lewis should get special treatment being alone on a stage is anyone's guess - maybe, being a rewrite of a song from The Mikado, they thought it demanded extra culture - but her entire performance is framed in a blue-purple oval, as if a dry run for the graphics of early 80s BBC news. Close-ups of cellos and a clarinet too. None of this overshadows that Lewis' great soul voice is being parlayed into somewhere it barely belongs, and that after Feelings and We'll Gather Lilacs it's the nation's pop program falling back on the classics songbook again. Very few audience shots to determine what the kids think of it, though they hardly need help in coming across as catatonic.
Bay City Rollers – It's A Game
Same as two weeks ago. Health and safety, can't have that many tartan scarves in one built up area too often.
Carol Bayer Sager – You’re Moving Out Today
Kid sees this as "a real treat", and to emphasise how special he is he gets a ride on a camera trolley while introducing it, to the evident delight of several of those he passes. DLT or Jimmy would have done all sorts of business while there; Kid just introduces it without reference or playing up to it, as if nothing were amiss. There's the mark of the man. As it stops he embarks on some self-conscious strutting on the spot as Sayer, hands deep in high waisted white trousered pockets, peppily/quirkily sings like you'd imagine Diane Keaton would, complete with mid-lyric face 'trying to remember' acting, before miming along to the trumpet/scat solo before realising it makes her look foolish. Meanwhile offscreen the male vocal role is shared by a too casual bloke from the office and a Speak & Spell machine. "The grocer told me what you do with bread"?
Joe Tex – Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)
I mean, he's not exactly svelte either, is he? Great as it is and as successful as the single was, strange to see this make the early edit, not least because you'd imagine Soul Train would have to be paid an extra set of export repeat fees. Kid's virtually pissing himself laughing afterwards. It's been on before, man!
The Trammps – Disco Inferno
Big old edit in the early version: "For fans of Legs and Co, we have a bonanza for you today (massive jump cut) as they dance to the Trammps' new record" Hard to see in the light what the costumes are, but they appear to consist of gold bras and pants, quite a bit of tinsel and, for some reason, large gold buttons on fronts and sides. I say hard to see because the whole routine is overlaid with a screen of flashing red lights at epilepsy rates. The routine shows up the problem with still nascent Legs & Co - they're fine dancers, fully conversant in getting down, but the actual choreographed bits don't seem to have much going for them. The version on One For The Dads confirms that it wasn't BBC4 cutting the song off in mid-flow but BBC1 in 1976. Must have been given razor blades for Christmas.
Tony Etoria – I Can Prove It
"Good disco fun" says Kid, the song already long well underway behind him. In a Harry Hill-collared white shirt and elaboratedly knotted snood-cum-neckerchief with with a rarely utilised guitar strapped on, Etoria seems more than a bit nervous, perhaps because orchestra and singers are throwing everything they can at the arrangement. At various points he seems to be singing behind the rhythm, vainly trying but missing the click track altogether.
Joy Sarney – Naughty Naughty Naughty
I think all has been said that neeed to be said here.
The Jacksons – Show You The Way To Go
"From the land of a thousand dances!" Even Michael only exhibits two or three here, but it's enough. This has gone down as the record where Michael really started showing what he'd become, the eighteen year old's voice achieving full range under the new tutelage of Gamble & Huff as writers and producers. As for their actual studio presence, it's a wonder. People are dancing! Kid's swinging his mike cord! The brothers have broken out their colour coded martial jackets with glittery designs on the front that might as well have been based on the outfits from a lost Gerry Anderson series! Michael's straight to the front, leaving Jackie and Marlon to try and pull off a full choreographed synchronised routine when there's two of them and their brother's in front spinning away and adding ad-libs. Unfortunately, after a commanding performance Michael decides he can trust a Top Of The Pops crowd with participation. "Everybody clap your hands! Put 'em up high so I can see 'em!" By the time we cut away five people have done so.
Van McCoy – The Shuffle
Legs & Co again, clearly without time to rehearse new bits for this prime example of Sport On Four Pop as Sue and Lulu pretty much replicate their routine from the other week and everyone else follows their moves in pairs of Patti/Pauline and Gill/Rosie on seperate podiums behind, all sporting bedouin-based trousers.
The Jam – In The City
Ah, the point of no return, how are you.
Well, that was effervescent. Note Kid's brief spate of air guitar when he thinks he's far enough off camera - he did it again at the end - the two blokes pogoing at different speeds from first to last while everyone else remains rigid, fighting that good fight, and that in his indoor shades at that angle at 0:43 Rick Buckler looks a bit like Roger Taylor does now. Note the expert coincidental timing that sees this appear the day before BBC4's Punk Britannia season kicks off, and then wonder, while neither song nor performance are really recognised as major moments in punk's heritage, whether a crack hadn't just appeared in the prime-time pop continuum. "Right at the forefront of a new rock phenomenon known as New Wave", Kid declares confusingly.
Rod Stewart – The First Cut Is The Deepest
Toppotron™'s back! Three months after the last use of a pretend big screen, one seems to grow into the set out of nowhere, giving away its secret with its initial picture-in-picture shot, replicating what we're seeing only with a big blue bit of cloth where Toppotron™ is, eventually replaced by a projection of the countdown still of Rod in full emotive body language which someone then walks in front of, none too cleverly. Song introduced, Kid turns towards it. So does most of the audience. What were they expecting to see there? We see the video in all its back-guitar-playing, arse-waggling glory. Boz Scaggs' Lido Shuffle sees us out. Just one thing for Kid to do before the end, and he doesn't disappoint: "from me it's good love!"