An actual recap by me of a show actually that went out! I know!
We start with a close-up of... some sort of robot. It's being held, it turns out, by Ed Stewart, who pretends it actually is Tony Blackburn before hurredly adding before Oxygene drowns him out "Tony's lost his voice, I'm here instead, so welcome!" It must be some tonsil problem Tony had as he didn't reappear on the show for two and a half months. Unless there's something else... he did seperate from Tessa Wyatt in autumn 1977*, it says here... As for Stewport we saw him cadging for names for the new dance troupe eleven months ago and he did a wiped show in December '76, but this would be his thirtieth and last TOTP fling before concentrating on Junior Choice and Crackerjack, two shows you'd imagine would require quite some concentration.
(* Tony says the famous on-air breakdown was in October 1976 but he seemed quite chipper doing a show that month, even having time to pop down the T-shirt printers, so who knows really)
Rose Royce – Do Your Dance
So none of them are actually half-cleaned Escorts? I feel I've been lied to. No excuse for a file photo any more, they've come mob handed, big horn section, guitarist and bassist grinning madly at each other, Rose Norwalt/Gwen Dickey - one and the same - and her exotic braids seemingly singing into a rose (do you see?) at first, though it's just next to the mike. Backing vocalists sprout up all over the place, from congas to middle trumpet. There's the mark of a band not taking any chances with the orchestra.
David Soul – Silver Lady
Still no sign of him in this country but he's happy enough walking the streets and hills of... somewhere American. In the grand mid-70s tradition we saw Leo Sayer also uphold last week it's a clip made entirely by pointing a camera at the star and getting him to wander aimlessly, pausing at one point to shake somebody's hand. That's how famous he is, and also how casual he slips into his fame. Like Leo, lipsync and matching the edit to the song's rhythmic pace are for other people. Unlike Leo, he's got a motorbike to swank about on for a bit and some well tended gardens to shepherd his lady through.
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Waiting In Vain
Legs & Co, and nothing says Rastafari irie like some waltzing in dresses made from net curtains. Cream jackets offset all the skirt swishing about and transparency. What this has to do with the song or rhythm... maybe they didn't have too much time.
Peter Blake – Lipsmackin' Rock 'N' Rollin'
Not that Peter Blake, but the one who would go on to play Kirk St Moritz in Dear John. You remember. Introduced as "a newcomer to TOTP" for now he's a stereotypical rock and roll revivalist and one who's aware of what that means at this precise moment too - studded leather jacket, pompadour quiff, vintage Levis - to distract from the fact that he's also a poor second to Danny Williams as a song derived from a drink advert. The audience in the round are for their part swaying gladly and Blake's going to play to them, running his hand through one girl's hair in passing, realising that wasn't the wisest option and seemingly slapping another upside the head. Intriguingly, the verse tune is practically identical to the following year's Greased Lightning, pre-chorus pauses and all. You can definitely sing one over the other. There's even a dubious car reference towards the end. Hmmm...
Ram Jam – Black Betty
"Tomorrow Radio 1 is ten years old and so is Radio 2. Welcome Ram Jam at number 18!" Surely there was supposed to be something in the middle there. TOTP did actually have a special edition for the station's fifteenth birthday, from which show the celebrated DJs dancing to Adam Ant clip comes (and Jocky Wilson Said, actually). As for Ram Jam they're playing in someone's garden being watched by all manner of dubious characters, including two girls on a stationary motorbike, one holding a plastic cup, and one man dancing and clapping wildly above his head who seems to have invegilated himself among the band. He's actually standing next to the drum riser. Ram Jam look much as you'd imagine they would. Just before the end we see two men off to the far side having a chat while leaning against some abandoned amps, apparently unaware that rock is occurring just next to them.
David Essex – Cool Out Tonight
The show's moving at a fair old clip tonight, without apparent extra modern editing we're six songs in after twelve and a half minutes. Playing in front of a humungous glitterball and a two thirds as large baseball David's permanently got his guitar on tonight and the saxophonist still isn't touching the instrument that's strapped to him when there's a tambourine to shake instead. The middle eight sees David's head briefly encased in an oval frame, because that's what successful people get. Probably. Something else that happens to famous people is nobody advises them not to ad lib "ba boom ba dum" mid-line. "A good year for David" Stewpot surmises.
The Stylistics – I Plead Guilty
It doesn't bode well that the orchestra turn the intro into contemporary family sitcom incidental music, I know that much. Stewpot's link is entirely off camera, which kind of fits the commercial and critical downslide the band are on - this didn't chart and they'd never make the top 75 again, though being TOTP they'd be back in the studio once more in 1978. Russell Thompkins Jr still looks permanently surprised but he somehow fits the band uniform of canary yellow better. Incidentally the Stylistics are in the country for the whole of November. Two of these five, not including Thompkins Jr, remain. It's unclear whether the one sporting the same hair and beard arrangement as Peter Sutcliffe is one.
Donna Summer – I Remember Yesterday
What at first looks like a video purely of stills turns into Donna in full white suit with bow tie and top hat doing cabaret dancing on the spot in a spotlight. Her miming clarinet playing would do Flick proud. It's all very nice but this isn't the futuro-diva we were promised a couple of months back.
Golden Earring – Radar Love
"A sound with a difference" Stewpot calls this, which is curious for a show that's already featured Black Betty. They may actually be playing live, there's certainly the ballsy commitment and muso concentration to suggest so as singer Barry Hay thrusts forward in his red wrapround shades. The drummer fancies himself for notice in a Bruce Lee (later Kill Bill) replica tracksuit. Of course the audience are unsure what to make of this rhythm and rock explosion. How's he got his hands wet inside the car? Window broken?
Elvis Presley – Way Down
And this week's iteration of Legs & Co sees Sue and Rosie... not there. Maybe they got bored of the same song again and again after weeks of I Feel Love too. The remaining Legs are paired off, one on the stage opposite Toppotron™, one on the nearer side, all in a very thrown together outfit of pink bra and pants with remnants of a grass skirt attached to the latter. We know they're not averse to digging out old costumes but such is the half-light they're performing in it really wouldn't make a difference here. In the audience one couple embark on what looks like the full American Smooth. There's a couple of others pairing off, but the overall dancing message is confused. And that's it? Not quite, as Stewpot has one last guest, a "young man" responsible for both this week's playout and the chart still of the week:
With a shirt on this time, though. That'll be Giorgio Moroder, then, pleased to report it's "number one in the discos in the States" and mentioning he "found Donna in Munich three years ago" like she was lost property. Stewpot hopes he'll be "doing well with her and yourself" before a tremendously camp "OK? Byeeeeee!" flourish to finish his stint. Somewhere Tony Blackburn opens another packet of lozenges and phones his lawyer.