A side note to begin: there's no Pops next week - don't know if The Sky At Night is moving any time soon but this month's is a special to mark 55 years on the air so give them some leeway for now - but as part of their 1970s series BBC2 is getting in on the act by showing this one at 10pm on the 12th May. Surely there's better choices? And not just for Gary Glitter's presence, much as that'll get the duty log going.
And then, on the 17th... two TOTPs in one night! Christ alive, I'm already dreading how I'm going to work out that week. 7.30 and 8.30, since you ask, with the long promised Tales From Television Centre documentary at 9 and a 1974 Blue Peter featuring a tour of the same building at 8, and the unedited Pops will be shown back to back from 11.20.
Back to forty minute originals this week, so let's try a new way of doing things - if possible (as, for example, not this week) I'll have the Thursday evening recap up later the same night, then some time on Friday the songs edited out will be included.
Oh, Tony Blackburn. With your Lego man hair and your cream polo neck and your lack of jokes now Diddy's off the roster.
Eddie & The Hot Rods – I Might Be Lying
PUNK! Well, no it isn't, it's not even as punk-like as their previous appearance with Get Out Of Denver, it's just not-as-good-as-Dr Feelgood-style pumped up rhythm and blues pub rock. Barrie Masters is certainly aware of what's going on with his stance and microphone attack mode, forward and back across the stage with an artfully bare chest and with the camera following his every step eagerly from almost underneath, but somehow it's not quite right. Maybe it's because it always looks like he's about to break out into a great big smirk. Both guitarists and the becapped bassist are in shades, one of the former pulling plenty of rock action moves unbecoming to his Graham Parker-in-leather-jacket appearance. Not for the last time tonight the audience couldn't be less interested. Three girls right by the front of the stage are watching the overhead monitor. Another is not only looking away from it but also chewing gum nonchalantly. Put some ripped leathers on her and she'd make the lead in a bad comedy sketch about punk, I suppose.
O.C. Smith – Together
"This used to be one of my records of the week". Oh, Tony, everything's your record of the week. He even mentions it again afterwards, he's so proud of its status. It's a long way from the Soul Train clip of two weeks ago to Elstree, but in his neat all-blue ensemble incorporating waistcoat Smith still exudes a kind of glazed sophistication against the very vague efforts of the orchestra, showmanship limited to some finger clicking. In the background various Hot Rods briefly appear to tidy up after themselves.
Stevie Wonder – Sir Duke
Cameraman and director in perfect misdirection harmony.
Pauline and the others (bar Patti - well, she needed time off after what Floyd put her through last week) are in very shiny and reflective silver dresses with something similar on top of their heads and they're going right through their training, bits of celebrated dance styles mixed in with the usual exertions somehow to balance with Stevie's appreciation shout-outs. Plus, for that extra ingredient, audible handclaps. As long as they weren't dubbed on in post-production, that's all that matters. And the audience respond in kind with... well, no, they don't respond in the slightest. Hardly a twitch, even though Pops seems to have built them three ringside grandstands to sit in and still have to have some standing around at the sides. Never a good idea, putting the audience in the background, you can then see how easily distracted they get. In one close-up only Tony, absent mindedly tapping the mike against his other wrist, is showing any sign of life.
Berni Flint – I Don't Want To Put A Hold On You (edited from 7.30)
Can't work out if this is a repeat or not. There are after all a limited number of things a director can do with one seated man and his acoustic guitar picking.
Tavares – Whodunnit
"I hate to brag but this was another of my records of the week". How many does he get a week? It's a clip from Holland's Top Pop, possibly chosen for the name alone, and a show that clearly holds no truck with the art of miming as only the lead singer is given a microphone even though backing vocals and harmonies are scattered throughout. Their matching crimson outfits with elaborate collars are quite the thing, along with the standard issue soul wing shirt collars. The shirts are pink. Pink!
Lynsey De Paul & Mike Moran – Rock Bottom
Lynsey's special 'ROCK BOTTOM' paper didn't arrive that morning, nothing amuses her and this time nobody can be bothered with flags (or reactions) around them, but otherwise it's pretty much the same facing pianos arrangement as last time. They didn't even play it like that on the night, which was still more than two weeks away at this time due to strike-related postponement. The early version features a tremendously clumsy mid-song edit.
Leo Sayer – How Much Love
Well, this is decidedly odd. A video (here it is) directed by the man behind the Bohemian Rhapsody video (and has directed every live American Idol), it's essentially built around up to four Leos dancing and essentially messing about while singing, filmed individually and often in silhouette, looking like a cross between Once In A Lifetime and the credits sequence of Bottom.
Delegation – Where Is The Love (We Used To Know)
With Tony keen to state they're from Birmingham, so we run into 1977's Sheer Elegance, only with toned down wardrobes, if that's how you'd describe all-in-ones with zips right up the front in Wolverhampton Wanderers colours. All things are relative, after all, and you definitely wouldn't run them over. As far as the song goes it's pretty much the same as every other male vocal harmony soul outfit, their USPs seemingly being a) the Charlie Williams-a-gram lead singer pitching the mike at an angle where he constantly has to tilt his head upwards, and b) the chain of male pattern baldness from left to right - curly perm, shaved short, actually receded to the sides. "They now go back to Germany" Tony enthuses.
Elkie Brooks – Pearl's A Singer
Repeat from her second appearance. The pianist is quite Lennonish, isn't he?
David Dundas – Another Funny Honeymoon (edited from 7.30)
"At last David Dundas has given us another hit single!" I can't imagine that was an oft heard exultation at the time. Better arrangement - no chicken guitar, less In The Summertime stealing - and an unobtrusive white suit but ultimately a lack of charisma does for him no matter how much he tries to make unbecoming doe eyes at the camera. Someone right near the front in a huge floppy hat nods along while looking away from the stage. He's not that bad. "A nice happy-go-lucky one for the summer, I'd have said" is Tony's only half listening interpretation.
Dead End Kids – Have I The Right (edited from 7.30)
The multi-stage production from last time around.
Deniece Williams – Free
As with OC Smith she was performing this on clips imported from Soul Train two shows ago. Impractical as it sounds, it'd be nice to think there was some exchange program going on and that same week Showaddywaddy and Dead End Kids were confusing the cool kids of LA. What is definite is even for the time those are the greatest width of bell bottom we've seen, and in another all-in-one to boot. Turquoise, too. Great live vocal, hamfisted interpretation, and only what looks like a portable set of steps for her to sing on, Delegation obviously far more important to properly locate than an American boasting the country's number four single. The camera crane ends up behind her so we can see the orchestra in the middle distance and in between a sea of blank faces. Johnny Pearson, it transpires, is miles away, behind part of the camera run. Maybe that was the problem.
ABBA – Knowing Me Knowing You
With the minimum of fuss it's a third week atop for that video, then someone behind Tony adds their own "bye!" just after he says it, then Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill and we're out.