Wednesday, 29 February 2012

29th February

1968: Calendar quirks meant there were a couple of shows on the year's rarest day. Slightly awkward, this, as the performance is from this show but the dancing isn't. Tom Jones, however, conquers all, and without the re-editing we'd never have seen the human Space Invader at 2:10.

1996: You'd kind of imagine David Bowie didn't need gimmicks like that novelty mike stand by 1996, but he had a sci-fi club direction to pursue, dammit. The Pet Shop Boys look on nonplussed, as is their wont.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

28th February

1980: Elvis Costello is a very serious artist, you know. From one speccy guitarist to another, The Shadows were a band with whom both the charts and Pops kept faith with long after their time. Brian Bennett's certainly enjoying his moment out front but you've seen more convincing faux-keyboard playing.

1985: Unassumation, if there is such a word, was surely taken to new levels by Stephen Tin Tin Duffy, who wears a guitar but strums it twice shortly after some distracted looking poking about with a boxy synth, surrounded by prints of paintings. Lesser men would have hired session musicians. Compare to the sleek professionalism of the Commodores with their three keyboards, lead vocal swapsies and adventorously designed top. The white tracksuit is a neat touch.

1997: Whatever you're imagining Cathy Dennis covering Waterloo Sunset at the commercial peak of Britpop might sound like, you're probably right. That might well have been the last headstockless guitar to ever appear on the show. There was a phase between Prince calling himself the symbol for TAFKAP and returning to his proper name where he was referred to as The Artist to little commercial effect, though he still gets to extravagantly guitar solo. What is that he grabs out of someone's hand and throws at his keyboard player right at the start?

2003: Something that littered pop around the very late 90s and early 00s was pop acts asserting their credentials by doing acoustic versions at the drop of a sessioneer's plectrum. Busted had more call than most, being guitar-based anyway, though Matt's not left with a lot to do. Still waiting for that seventh album.

Monday, 27 February 2012

27th February

1969: You can kind of see how Stuart Henry didn't become a Pops presenting legend, and how much he's trying to channel Jimmy at times. Particularly noteworthy in these still early days of rock'n'roll is how he commends Cliff Richard for a full ten years in the business. If only he knew. Cliff's trying to exude in his suit at least and doesn't have to have the distraction of modernist paintings flashing up behind her like Cilla Black. One kid gainfully attempts to strut his stuff while in full cricket whites. Men didn't really resemble Jason King in 1969 but Peter Sarstedt must have decided at some point that was the look he was aiming for. For a laugh. A-ha-ha-ha.

1986: Now imagine going from those examples of the straighter edge of 1960s pop straight to Sigue Sigue Sputnik without prior warning. Sometimes that cyberpunk look gets brought up as an example of the ridiculousness of 80s fashion, but it pretty much was only adopted by members of Sigue Sigue Sputnik, as was that mess of effects and samples over basic rockabilly, because it sounded like a mess even then that no amount of visual effects or smoke bombs could really override. Steve Wright must have really liked the Bangles given he names them twice in his intro link.

1992: How much of your budget should go into an Inspiral Carpets performance? By this stage they could apparently be afforded a big sparks explosion backdrop and lots of big balloons at the back of the stage on loan from The Prisoner's Village. By contrast U2 seem quite casual recorded at soundcheck in Florida, and for a band soon enough known for their multimedia extravaganzas the screen at the back can barely be seen for Larry Mullen's kit.

1998: Cleopatra! Comin' atcha! The search for a big new girl band took some unusual detours. If they were being directed straight to the pop heart Cornershop had no designs on playing along, number one or not (this is the same performance from a later show). Being unable to recreate the Fatboy Slim remix people had bought, it was decided somewhere along the line that the kids should be given the original anyway. Of course the false ending, coming at the point where the remix ends, catches the lot of them out.

2006: As if this week's show hadn't thrown logic to the four winds, being presented by Fearne Cotton, Jocelyn Brown and that avatar of pop music vitality Matt Allwright - that's THE HOST OF ROGUE TRADERS PRESENTING TOP OF THE POPS, and still people go "why did the BBC axe it?" - they shot themselves in the foot with their addition to Pink's routine. It's a song about celebutants of the Paris/Nicole school, so if Pink suggests she start her piece by apparently reading the sort of magazines they appear in... why give hr a copy of the show's own magazine? You're doing your own product down there. As I say, within five months the show was down the dumper.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

26th February

1964: With some of these earlier surviving performances you're not sure whether they actually do come from Pops, so unlike all other footage and photos do they look. Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas, for instance, are playing in a small studio with no apparent audience and have still photos of children edited in, which gives some of the lyrics an unfortunate Gary Puckett Young Girl air. Guitarists standing on boxes wasn't standard issue for 1964 either.

1981: One of the shows presently available in its entireity: part one has Status Quo doing their regular performance and Beggar & Co thinking they look like gumshoes when they actually look like flashers; part two has Kim Wilde's debut giving a generation of adolescents funny thoughts, the Passions too icy for their own good and Madness completely abandoning the concept of realistic miming; part three is highlighted by some energetic jazz-funk and bow tie flagrancy from Freeez; part four gives us Kiki Dee's future Bob Says Opportunity Knocks theme (written by one of the Chanter Sisters, 1976 fans) with her name in literal lights. That prop can't have been used too much for all the effort put into it.

1987: "This next song is very very loud!" Well, you have sound editors at your end. The Cult are the noisy beggars responsible, Ian Astbury, Russian hat aside, looking every inch the popular image of a hard rock singer. Mike Smith and Steve Wright discuss events afterwards much as you imagine they might. Fair to say the same can't be said of Level 42 in their big coats and with a keyboardist conversant in the two vital skills for the time of making faces at lurking cameras and playing different synths with each hand. Mental As Anything had an art-school background and an ironic post-modernity to much of their work but it's difficult to express those theories when you're one hit wonders, though it may explain the drummer's shirt jacket. The one stage left doesn't seem that keen on joining in with the frivolity.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

25th February

1971: The camera's road to Atomic Rooster is paved with dancing girls, though it's not especially danceable music. The organist is equally keen to be seen. Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons are more drilled with their craft with their matching outfits, not that the stage crew seem all that convinced having not only built a playground climbing frame around them but deposited a large box in front of the stage. You've seen more convincing keyboard playing, it's fair to say.

1982: There's plenty of iconic Associates Pops performances in the archive but on their debut they're still trying to find their piece. True, Martha Ladly (previously the secondary Martha in Martha & the Muffins) looks the glamorous piece in her suit, but Billy MacKenzie must have stolen that had from an on-course bookmaker.

1988: SHE'S FIFTEEN. Plenty remember Vanessa Paradis but it's her Dick Tracy sax army that really impress, though one of them clearly missed rehearsals.

1993: Annie Lennox has never been afraid of a high concept, and given a hit from a film about Dracula she gets placed amid something appropriately gothic - window and staircase from round the back of the Hammer clearout, candles from an old Take That routine, pillars of fire as previously discussed, dry ice fountains spoiling the image a bit. At least it's of a piece with Lennox's work. There's something faintly undignified about the idea of Bryan Ferry deciding 1993 was just the right time for his jazz-funk cover of I Put A Spell On You and to sit behind a massive piano with dancers dressed as a cartoon Frenchwoman and some sort of voodoo effort. The female guitarist looks appropriately uncomfortable with the setting.

Friday, 24 February 2012

24th February

1977: Barbara Dickson was in to plug Evita, but before then Noel met a disturbingly young looking Andrew and an allotment owner looking Tim. Not often the director has to work harp springs in.

1983: Electronic drums, white trousers and Tony Hadley dressed as an American Midwest 1860s bank manager. Spandau Ballet are her caught in an awkward place between the Blitz club and the high living Romanticism. Steve Norman, as ever, got whatever was left over. If Hadley looking suave is one visual integer of 80s pop, so is the style Eurythmics debuted here - Annie short red hair and suit plus a surprising vigorous arm-pumping routine, Dave beardy and pretending to make himself useful, Eddi Reader on backing vocals, Clem Burke of Blondie on drums. Bonnie Tyler's middle age look (though she's only 31 here) red leather ensemble didn't stand a chance in comparison.

1994: The visual effect of Beck's superannuated miming backing band might have worked better had Bruno not gone and spoilt it in the intro. Good to see Willie Nelson earning gainful employment on sitar, though maybe we could have seen Beck spin on his back rather than another shot of him. No such irony where Ace Of Base are concerned, and that's counting the gurning from the blokes. TOTP really liked using those towers of flame at the time even if they do look vaguely fascistic.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

23rd February

1978: Blondie's debut, and right from the off everything looks just right - pouting Debbie in big boots and forgetting to put on a nice skirt, the boys in neat suits. That is except bassist Nigel Harrison, who does without the jacket and as he's since taken legal action against the rest of the band was always likely to be the one to keep a careful eye on. The Legs & Co contribution is one everyone remembers, as dancing girls in school uniforms plus stockings and suspenders doing high kicks are wont to be (and this is before Hot Gossip made it to television), to Free's All Right Now. You couldn't get much further from any of that then Brian & Michael's Matchstalk Men And Matchstalk Cats And Dogs, from the days when earthy folk songs about industrially inclined painters could go to number one. Backing vocals by St Winifred's School Choir, lest it be overlooked.

1984: "I'm dying to know what Marilyn has under his cloak" Janice excitedly expresses. Janice, it's Marilyn. I think we can take an informed guess between us. It's more exciting than the song, which only serves to prove Marilyn really shouldn't be trusted to lead a gospel ballad.

1989: S'Express's continued attempt to try and find a way to express their work on the national stage this time led to toy pianos and at least three people doing nothing. She does know you're supposed to use both hands on a guitar's strings, right? And yet with just a live mike as aid Michael Ball can put a lot more effort in.

1995: Hosted by Peter Cunnah, who for a full decade and a half was the most famous member of D:Ream. The rather more assertive Damon Albarn pulled double duty, firstly amusing himself on keyboards while Elastica re-enact the Waking Up video as far as regulations and teatime family viewing will allow, then in the week they won a million (four) Brit Awards Blur performed Jubilee off Parklife. The cameraman fairly smashes through rows of bodies at the outset, while during the break Damon artfully/uselessly smashes up a laptop, the effect lost by the cumulative effect of a camera circling Graham and interspersed shots from behind the drumkit of the cameraman and his assistant circling Graham. Coxon finishes by taking a Polaroid of a camera. It won't show much, Graham. Such arty affectations are lost on PJ & Duncan, who in having to promote a single called Our Radio Rocks choose to sing live, presumably hoping two wrongs might occasionally make a right.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

22nd February

1973: Given its iconic status it's actually fairly difficult to find television footage of Slade where Noddy's actually wearing the mirrored hat. Here, for example, he's gone the faux-Burberry route. Luckily Dave's not letting the side down, here in the fabled Metal Nun gear. Look at that thing! Floor length, over the head, the works.

1979: Anyone who sat through 1976's colour clash weeks of You To Me Are Everything might be forgiven for thinking The Real Thing got swept away as black music culture moved to the disco floor. The very opposite, in fact, as they grew backing percussionists, came in their own clothes, still let that one member bring his own guitar in and became a full-on sensation. Look at that crowd go at the end. Ironically given what rock'n'roll history will now tell you, in comparison it's the mouthy punk of the Members that looks the more cabaret, Nicky Tesco invoking Jimmy Pursey in his excitable playacting. Meanwhile the Bee Gees' Tragedy gets the Pierrot clown treatment from Legs & Co, with the aid of a piece of garden furniture.

1980: What's Powell on about now? Well, presumably this followed Winter Olympics coverage, but even so. The first bit of the show and it kicks off with a regular visitor over the course of the decade, Shakin' Stevens neither the wild man of legend or the hot dancer of later successes. He's followed by The Beat, "bouncing as ever", and a repeats of Buggles but the blog didn't feature the original showing so let's just pretend. Carnations and rubber gloves were evidently part of the future. Another debutant with a big 80s ahead, Iron Maiden in their original lineup and already with a surfeit of poses and cymbals.

1990: 1990, time for the Guru! Not dressed or dancing like Guru Josh on prime-time telly it wouldn't be. I don't think those are actual violinists either, though one of them seems not to have got the memo and turned up in a big jacket and jeans, especially as there are no proper strings on the track. Not sure what's more worrying about Tina Turner here, the age-defying mass of hair or the fact most of her dancing stems from twitching her elbows. Come the chorus a slow pirouette seems to excite the audience enough, though. And watch for that big kick!

1996: Part of the mania sweeping the nation that here leads Lisa I'Anson to adopt a leering cockey accent, Blur invoke more screaming excitement then most song about suburban swingers would, especially when Damon takes his jacket off to reveal some product placement. The kids at the end know they must right now invade the stage but aren't entirely sure how to do it. And in the blue corner Oasis, Union Jack guitar and all, get to do two songs, firstly Don't Look Back In Anger with Liam on unconvincing piano, then its B-side cover of Cum On Feel The Noize, seemingly starting with Liam giving instruction to an unnecessary soundman.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

21st February

1974: The clip's mostly in monochrome and been badly kept, the audio's been redubbed, but for history's sake it's pretty much unimpeachable, being Queen's Pops debut. They only made it to the studio twelve times in all, being too busy with touring or making unplayable extravaganzas.

1985: Howard Jones with Jed as Chaplin? Sounds fantastic just from Bruno's reference, just a shame nobody's uploaded it. We must instead pick out Sharpe & Numan, the latter you know, the former jazz keyboardist Bill Sharpe. No idea who the 'guests' Bruno refers to are, there's only one other person on stage with them, but Gary's white suit, white hat and whiteface make-up with blue go-faster stripes, like he was trying to prove a point, is good enough. He does seem to think he's Michael Jackson or something with his leg movements at the mike stand. Also, having monitors as part of your keyboard rig isn't really helpful.

1997: Clearly you're nobody without a pop-art stylish but impractical guitar and a mannequin who may be supposed to be Sid Vicious. No idea who that's supposed to be on the other side of James' stage. No Doubt's idea of decoration is more in keeping with the image. Perhaps aware that yet again he's having to play on a broken heart song about himself, bassist Tony Kanal decides to amuse himself with some robot dancing at the start and completely taking over the solo with something clearly not the part he's actually playing.

Monday, 20 February 2012

20th February

1986: For Public Image Ltd's brief return to the forefront Lydon's really gathered the clans in - a 1940s BBC radio mike for him to occasionally stand a bit near, a superfluous violinist, Don Letts vaguely on keyboard, two drummers (one being Hugo Burnham from Gang Of Four) and a GI hat. Janice seems pleased, and rightly so.

1998: You know when a song is a surprise hit and the band have to find a way of getting it across on telly? Beat group revivalists Lilys got on a Levis advert and chose to perform live despite singer Kurt Heasley's voice sounding like it's on the verge of giving in. Big finish, though. Their Wiki claims this was "the first fully live performance on Top of The Pops since Aerosmith in 1978", which sounds like bollocks well before you learn Aerosmith didn't appear on TOTP until 1993.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

19th February

1964: So what's the oldest surviving TOTP footage? No, it's not the start of the first show, any clips you've seen of that are a remake from the 20th anniversary special. No, it's a pre-filmed insert shown on this day by the fine stomping Dave Clark Five.

1981: A show with two highly improbably Legs & Co breaks is a show to watch, that's for certain. Firstly they back Fred Wedlock on The Oldest Swinger In Town, which is as gainly as it sounds especially when Wedlock's sporting the open shirt look, but their actual solo turn to Once In A Lifetime is somewhat degraded by the fact that song already has a perfectly serviceable video with its own celebrated choreography, which is completely ignored in favour of something that seems to be loosely based on Planet Of The Apes. I could pretty much post the whole of this show, it's filled with gold, whether that be Headgirl, Motorhead and Girlschool by their powers combined, having their own private dance-off halfway through or Toyah trying that little bit too hard at first before finding out the camera likes her anyway. Adam & the Ants wow teenage girls across the land with their songs comprising hardly anything but shouting, tribal drums and feedback while Adam gets his scrawny chest out; The Stray Cats get their own hop going, apparently with a seperate set of dancers to those the show has provided.

1987: It's not made clear what proportion of Man 2 Man Meet Man Parrish are chiefly involved, but the Male Stripper part is adhered to as far as prime-time television in 1987 can allow. Listen to the way the girls scream when the bloke takes one of his three jackets off. So who were Westworld? They had a load of advertising at the time and the walk-on suggests they meant business but if they're supposed to be high concept having electronic backing, becapped girl and square rockabilly electric guitar is somewhat offset by the conventionality of the acoustic.

1999: The title says UNKLE but for a while it's a DJ Shadow showcase - you can tell it's live because of the quality of Ian Brown's vocals. An absolutely static audience has to be informed by Brown when it's finished. Meanwhile Blur swoon gospelly and Damon adopts the second hand car dealer's shades of choice.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

18th February

1982: Madness kick off with a prime example of why having dancers on Top Of The Pops, here Zoo, was such a useless vocation by this stage. They're wearing plastic bowler hats at the back of the stage, but then so is seemingly everyone else. They have a dance routine - as the camera pans from Read to band see some thumping their chests in time with the intro heartbeats before they get papers out - but everyone else is moving too so they're fairly indistinguishable. Plus, it's Madness. If one band on Pops didn't need extraneous entertainment numbers, it's them. Of more interest is the woman - possibly - in a nurse's dress, red cap and cape near the big screen. Is that deliberate too? By contrast, if Robert Palmer wasn't already pushing credibility by employing an Iraq army general on drums, he appears to be performing to a set of warning lights. At least his voice breaking falsetto doesn't get Mike singing along, unlike with Tight Fit. At 1:34 half the audience have a flashback to the last working men's club stag do they went to. If that was entertaining beyond comprehension for them, Toni Basil must have blown their minds, even if those boys and girls Zoo are doing their best to camouflage her spectacular one woman effort. Again, at the start Read reasserts that he really was an early 80s fun wacky Radio 1 type. The LVH on Basil's uniform, by the way, was because it was the actual cheer costume from her alma mater Las Vegas High School. From a one hit wonder to someone who did better than that on one show. as The Jam - Weller again! - got to close with both sides of the Town Called Malice/Precious double A side, which only the Beatles, Oasis and, um, the Four Seasons otherwise got to do in the show's history.

2000: If wet, break emergency London Community Gospel Choir glass. Gabrielle gets the full soul gospel production number. Imagine Ian Brown ever singing gospel. Still, that's what makes the far ends of pop's reach, even if Brown's vocal quality here has to be shielded by a remarkably big woolly hat and some appopriate projections.

Friday, 17 February 2012

17th February

1977: Thelma Houston shimmies and gives it some towards the camera. Legs & Co to Manhattan Transfer is a fairly obvious mental leap, but it gives weight to the name.

1994: A quieter day, but a rowdy entry to the collection from the Wildhearts, who one feels had thought long and hard about how to present themselves once they got on the show. Mayo pretty much says it all at the start.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

16th February

1978: The birth of a legend. Kate Bush is held hostage by the orchestra going that little bit too slowly and all that dance training can't prepare her for the size and design of the stage rooting her to the spot, but the vocal ability stuns the audience into still silence, although often they're just like that anyway. Equally impressive is the gent at the front at the end with huge blonde hair. (As the caption says this is a repeat of this first appearance. The caption also gets the date of the repeat wrong, Kate did three different versions on the show, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it) How hugely different it seems from the earthier delights of Darts. The pianist's got on the stage this time, while Den Hegarty... Den Hegarty. And how different the stage work of both to the studied nonchalance of Magazine's Howard Devoto. Where Tom Robinson Band - alright, Kid, calm down - fit into this narrative I can't quite decide, unless the Musician's Union sticker plays its part somewhere, but Tom could surely have found something more fitting than his school jumper.

1984: TOTP supported Slade to the bitter end, at least through their age of aiming at the stadiums. Jim Lea's never going to hit the right notes playing like that. The cooler kids had the Style Council, in a state where Paul had stopped passing notes on to Mick meaning the latter turning up in the cycling gear from the video only to find Paul in the shades and waistcoat he spent most (but not all, as we'll come to) of the decade in. Did Matt Bianco require dancers in cages? Regardless, it does seem the band didn't request balloons to be chucked at them, hence the lack of movement and the double bass player's constant vengeful bemusement. On Nena's debut you can't see her celebrated armpits at all, but she does sport a useless pink bandana and her guitarist engages in some thematic play-acting at the end.

1989: So by 1989 the Style Council had seen the winds of change and decided to embark on a new deep house direction. Weller proceeded to don flourescent shorts and debut the new style at a show at the Royal Albert Hall. It turned out to be their final gig and the album to go alongside it all was never released. In its TV visual version this meant duelling pianos, Paul singing side-on to camera and Dee C Lee leading the flock.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

15th February

1968: Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich have become a punchline in 60s pop debate, largely because of the improbably clumsy name, but some of their run of hits are decidedly peculiar - Bend It, Zabadak and this one, The Legend Of Xanadu, incorporating a Spanish guitar riff, a half-inched western theme and the necessity for Dee to 'play' a whip while in full regency gear including gloves, ruffled cuffs and cummerbund. When the bassist Dozy appears just after the two minute mark it may well be game over for logic. Meanwhile, for the first of many, many times, The Stattus Status Quo.

1979: Don't look too hard at your calendars, there appears to have been a one-off day change this week for some reason. Lene Lovich introduced the nation to her singular self, her huge pigtails and her school issue tambourine. The director clearly hadn't heard the song in advance. You'll see what I mean. Meanwhile the Skids' perpetually moving Richard Jobson had recently mugged a Rubette. You think 1976-77 audiences are bad? Look how completely immoveable these are.

1996: Nothing, surely, says 1996 culture more without involving Spice Girls than Justine Frischmann introducing Ocean Colour Scene. For the occasion Steve Cradock has donned his medals, won in the field for valour in the face of the arse-end of baggy. Why do the audience scream at the first line? As for Supergrass, the horn section seem to be enjoying themselves.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

14th February

1974: A wiped show, but dragged from the back of an antique cupboard comes Lena Zavaroni, whom Pops lore claims was the youngest person to appear on the show aged 10, though surely St Winifred's School Choir were seven and eight. Regardless, no small amount of self-possession here.

1985: When they say the 80s was a unique time for pop, it's not because of Tony Hadley types but because the mainstream opened its arms towards people like these three. Pete Burns, for example, leading Dead Or Alive into battle carrying on like the sort of presence your parents warned you about coming across after dark. Watch the bass head whack the camera at 0:41. If not Burns in that alleyway it'd be the permanenly clenched in anguish fist of Jaz Coleman from Killing Joke, the sort of man for whom flashlights would prove no aid. And on top of them, the Smiths appear, Morrissey in two ill-fitting tops. See the audience clap gleefully along with the suggestion of going home, crying and wanting to die.

1991: Rave bandwagon jumpers with their keytars and their dancing girls pretending to sing aren't the way the pros do it. 808 State set up three keyboard stacks and a drumkit and make like the awkward studio men they are. That one guy's dancing on the first break proves that. The traditionalists would rather we stuck to The Railway Children, chiefly included here for the quadrupled screen experience.

1997: Eels and their toy instrument trashing has been covered before at the big brother blog. Meanwhile, now he's the housewife's favourite again it's easy to remember how much Mark Owen fancied himself as a Britpop frontman in stage act. He's really trying to command things at the front, down on his knee, throwing himself into it at the end of the pre-chorus and everything, met by the same girl screams he was achieving in different circumstances a year earlier.

2003: Fearne Cotton's debut, as a late replacement, and look where that eventually left us. Her first job was with Oasis, or at least Liam and Gem. Really worth Liam standing up and wandering around in the middle. In fairness, maybe he had a hard cushion.

Monday, 13 February 2012

13th February

1975: Our first look at Fox, and more pertinently Noosha in her big shawl and nightie, while the cameraman creates their own man-made divisions in the audience. Yes, I know what the description says, it's a repeat of this original performance.

1986: The man Smash Hits always referred to as "Belouis" "Some", as well as looking like a sweaty home counties Gary Numan in his blonde phase, isn't short of charisma but seems lacking when it comes to commanding a stage. Look at his little turning about hot-footing in between chorus and verse. The mime-acting for the keyboard solo, in the absence of the required sax, really is something.

1998: For a band whose live shows are usually overrun with extravagant lighting and onstage numbers Spiritualized keep it relatively together, though obviously Jason Pierce can't resist hiring some gospel singers. And lots of prettily designed spotlights. And a full brass section. You can pretty much guarantee that recording went on for a lot longer than the edit required.

2006: In its increasing desperation to latch on to something in its dying days, TOTP would take on all sorts of extra-curricular concepts. Hence, the Winter Olympics Special from Turin, co-hosted by Sue Barker and Colin Jackson and flying bands such as Sugababes out there just to dance for them AT YOUR EXPENSE.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

12th February

1970: From one of those German clip shows that seems to hoard clips from otherwise wiped shows, Bobbie Gentry and her showy eyelashes apparently within a hot air balloon in the week three versions of Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head were in the top 50 at once. Why do they start clapping so early?

1976: Lesley Judd had been in the famed Young Generation dance troupe and before that part of the troupe on Dickie Valentine's 1966 series alongside Flick, Babs and Dee Dee, so once she became a Blue Peter presenter the call for a special appearance was but a matter of time. She got to solo on Manuel And The Music Of The Mountains, the elaborate pseudonym for celebrated television in-house band leader Geoff Love, which with its Spanish theme lent itself to, erm, Russian dresses. One of Guys 'n' Dolls has archived and uploaded some of that band's rarities, so we have You Don't Have To Say You Love Me at funereal pace With Noel going on about his ulcers. That one with the guitar thinks he's something special.

1981: And still the rockabilly non-rebels kept coming. What was Coast To Coast's secret? The maniac zeal and layered quiff of the lead singer? The chokers and spray-on legwarmers of the girls? Do you suspect the latter drew lots as to which started on the double bass? Quite a mental leap from there to Gillan going heavy on the metal pensive soloing with windmills, portentous we're-all-doomed lyrical content and headbands, but that's the glory of Top Of The Pops.

1987: "Very 1987 - Pepsi & Shirlie!" Can't fault Mayo for accuracy. Hair bows, puffball skirts, all that's missing is that Clothes Show Pet Shop Boys instrumental.

1999: Comes to something when you're getting famous people to record video messages telling you why the big hit you're about to see is worth your while. Even then Will Smith's appearance to introduce former co-star Tatyana Ali is completely, blithely ignored by the women (we think that year's UK Eurovision entrants Precious) standing around the set we're watching this through, so why should we care? Even so it's still a bit of the video with him that gets the audience interested.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

11th February

1982: Tommy Vance actually introduces himself as 'TV on the radio' despite being on TV, and that's without mentioning his Bobby Ball tribute jumper. Fun Boy Three and Bananarama display some individual dynamics, as the Boys crowd the lip of the stage or Terry does that uncomfortable shifting, forgetting about the mike thing he always did while the 'Nanas remain mostly near the back resolutely behind the mike stands. Some exciting five-person hoofing at the end too. Bow Wow Wow's Annabella Lwin would never have gone for such exuberance no matter what her turn-and-squat moves suggest. She should have put that sheet on a higher spin cycle setting too. Depeche Mode have hired suits out for the evening to complement their semi-circle of Roland doom. There's something wrong about Dave's fresh faced grinning, he comes across a bit like Tony Hawks. At least their attire wasn't colour coded in lemon unlike Haircut 100. The bongo player seems a little bit of a spare part. And then we come to Modern Romance's attempt to fuse Latino pop, spirited accordion and the, er, queen of the rapping scene, who looks like Tracey Ullman, wears a broad Spanish hat and appears to be French, just to confuse matters. Not even queen consort, in truth. It's Bev Sage of the Techno Twins, whose number 70 smash from that January sounded like this. It was 1982, we knew no better.

1993: When the Australian comedy show The Money Or The Gun thought up its regular slot of guests covering Stairway To Heaven in various styles they can't possibly have believed one of them would end up a big hit three years after the show finished. That is of course to underestimate the pull of Rolf Harris, who'd apparently never heard the original before being asked but saw his ironic student cachet rocket in its wake. You never usually get a TOTP audience cheering an accordion solo. More knowing kitsch from Saint Etienne, Pete and Bob in Elvis gold lame suits, but note the messages written on their hands throughout their one-finger keyboard prodding.

Friday, 10 February 2012

10th February

1983: Depeche Mode were still trying to find their exact place in pop's scheme of things. Dave Gahan looks like a wide eyed Scottish post-punk graduate, Vince Clark like a My First Nick Rhodes. That set must have upped the lighting bill considerably for no good reason. You couldn't even scale it.

1994: Before they went on for their TOTP debut Steve Lamacq, co-owner of their label, told Elastica's Justine Frischmann to give the camera plenty of eye contact, which is why she spends part of the appearance looking quite psychotic. 2:11 - that can't be a coincidence.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

9th February

1978: Before her Pet Shop Boys reinvigoration Dusty Springfield had a mixed ime of it, for her return after a half a decade's seclusion given a Holland-Dozier-Holland song and delivering it like a southern soul belter making tentative moves towards becoming Tina Charles.

1984: When snoods briefly became a big thing in the Premier League a year ago it was very odd that nobody thought to mention the man who brought them into the frontline of culture a decade and a half earlier, Nik Kershaw. Accessorising with a white suit bodywarmer, fingerless gloves and a flat-top, he looks like every 80s comedy style cliche in one. Determined never to fit into any easy style, Fish of Marillion in his smock and iron mask facepaint manages to make handclaps look threatening.

1989: Morrissey, Andy Rourke, Mike Joyce and Craig Gannon. Can't help feeling something's missing.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

8th February

1979: TOTP archive lore has it that Michael Jackson only appeared in the studio with Rockin' Robin, but in fact he performed Ben on a now wiped show and came over with his brothers on three occasions - Lookin' Through The Windows in 1972, Show You The Way To Go 1977 and Destiny. He really can't help himself by the end. Meanwhile the Shadows proved you can't keep a band down if they can capture the artistic zeitgeist often enough.

1990: There's something fascinating about largely forgotten boy bands, especially from this early on in the genre's core development. Yell! were created by industry A&R/management/publicist/writing vet Jeff Chegwin (and, yes, brother of Keith), produced by Stock Aitken & Waterman, featured a former Children's BBC presenter and had their only hit with a faithful cover of Dan Hartman's Instant Replay. Matching jackets and not singing most of their own chorus seems to be their 'thing'.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

7th February

1974: A wiped show but a performance so celebrated it gets repeated all the time, even just in that year - Suzi Quatro, the anointed bass, the synchronised kicking, the camera-on-camera visual effects CSO at the back, the lot. All done in one take too - if you look, whichever member it is doing the "welcome to the dive" interjection at the start does it there and then into a side-on camera, and then again for the second verse wolf whistle. Bet people still moaned about it being mimed.

1980: There was a curious period a couple of years ago when Colleen Nolan became the most famous woman in Britain, or thereabouts. You wouldn't have given The Nolans twelve months on the back of this brazen a stab at the disco mainstream, not least in those jumpsuits. Did Bernie leave her red top in the van? The Tourists had more secure ideas about presentation, even if for Annie those involved some sort of flying ace cap with an attached horse's tail. Dave Stewart remained in the background this time, a role he's rarely taken since. Compare and contrast his stance with that of The Selecter, who seem keen to push Arthur "Gaps" Hendricskon as being on at the very least an even keel with Pauline Black as frontperson despite his only providing backing vocals and far less energetic dancing.

2003: Soft Cell returned! For a bit. And it was musically as if they'd never been away, albeit with quite a bit more screaming than Marc would have been used to at their height. That jacket must be impossible to wear in heavy wind.

Monday, 6 February 2012

6th February

1986: In those days Ozzy Osbourne wasn't a comedy character manque and still had some menace about his persona, though the glittery robe seems to have undercut that on this occasion. Helpfully, the guitarist is dressed as a cartoon glam-metal guitarist might. Meanwhile Double are in the classic vocals/piano/clarinet/drums lineup, Kurt Maloo inventing the vertical guitar playing style in the meantime.

1992: When the Nineties revival kicks in, which judging by the current charts will be any day now, Adrian Rose's haircut will be its equivalent of the mullet. Having presumably found a sufficiently rock and roll airport to disembark at, Primal Scream get on with the business at hand. That is, observing at close quarters Bobby Gillespie's dancing style, which appears to only involve one side of his body.

1998: After what Bob did for us it'd be churlish not to link to an available Saint Etienne clip. This was their first appearance in nearly two and a half years, during which Sarah's boa had gone mouldy.

2004: Britney Spears, back when she was conscious that she was on television at the time, had a magical hold over audiences. Listen to their scream as she gets picked up. An actual round of applause for hiring two burly blokes! Michael Jackson launching the moonwalk never had such a reception.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

5th February

1970: Not many older surviving full shows than this, and just in its intro in the first clip we get an idea of the way they did things not long out of the decade of change and psychedelia - unknowable spinning images, some Pan's People hoofing, some flames and a 'talking' Tony Blackburn cutout that isn't as scary as the more famous Savile version but shares its unwillingness to adopt its subject's actual voice. Then there's a pictorial countdown in which Rolf Harris pulls double duty by standing in for Jonathan King and Vanity Fare look a whole decade out of place, then Tony himself in a rollneck - 27, he was then, just thought I'd mention it - before we get onto Shocking Blue having the time of their lives. Watch for Mariska Veres' I-can't-believe-I-get-away-with-this smile at the end of the first chorus. On the same show some classic Temptations, Tony getting the name of the film BJ Thomas' hit is from wrong, and then at the end this magnificent series of events. Firstly Peter Marinello, who'd just cost Arsenal a "fantastic fee" of £100,000 as he was supposed to be the new George Best but ended up failing, as he would when expressing comfort in the act of giving girls prizes. That lady's false eyelashes must have been hell to actually live with. Then Tony picks up an award from someone from the NME, who gets to give a speech too. Fair to assume nobody that age is let anywhere near the doors of King's Reach Tower now. Eventually Edison Lighthouse get to play their number one, much to the delight of a man whose yells are far louder and more exuberant than everyone else's. You could build a documentary just around the people dancing over the end music, not least the man in the tie inventing bodypopping.

1981: Here's a clash of cultures for the ages. Representing the United Kingdom, Fred Wedlock, like a successful Mike Harding. Representing Australia but also Italy (and America actually, he was born in Ohio), Joe Dolce Music Theatre. Imagine turning up for rehearsals and finding you'd been put on blackboard pointer duty.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

4th February

1982: After his errant one-off on 1/2/68, and assuming Maggie May doesn't count, John Peel next turned up on Pops on the 1981 Christmas show, of all things, to introduce the Human League and Altered Images, the latter of whom he introduced as "the biggest band of 1982". The host's predictive curse lived on well into the following decade. His first regular gig back came five weeks later, introducing both himself and then Theatre Of Hate, pretty much the polar opposite of easing a family audience into the show. Blonde quiff and semi-mohican. Good work, that man's barber. Peel's last Pops was indeed in 1996, by the way.

1988: You'd imagine Elton John would have been too grandiose for the show by this point, but give him a piano and a thematic backdrop and he won't even need to take his hat and coat off.

2000: Watch Jayne's little turn and pout at the start, every inch someone who knows the camera hasn't quite left her yet. Mint Royale both missing their cue, Lauren Laverne on vocals and a whole lot of washing up liquid in water.

Friday, 3 February 2012

3rd February

1966: Oddly, and quite overliterally, recovered from a documentary about depression, a snippet of Rolling Stones.

1972: That's not actually Richard Beckinsale, it's Chicory Tip singer Peter Hewson and for all his overhead clapping efforts and that kerazy Moog sound they don't seem to have won people over quite yet.

1977: Imagine you knew nothing about Gary Glitter. Now watch that, his last hit for a while. Yeah, exactly. Also seeking a way out of glam caricature, The Rubettes went Eagles-country.

1983: Haysi Fantayzee had built up to a full band by the time of Shiny Shiny, though not with many people who played their instruments in conventional ways. Kate Garner's outfit tries to be at least three things at once. Oh for the fashion straightforwardness of an Indeep, with their elaborately layered party dress and a bloke at the back just being a DJ with no showy behaviour, because both song and times decreed that this activity was incredibly glamorous in and of itself. And here's a good compare and contrast exercise, the deadpan Terry Hall in Fun Boy Three mode - that's June Miles-Kingston of later Comment Te Dire Adieu? mini-fame on drums - rubbing up against Kajagoogoo, slap bass held right up the body, syn-drums, Limahl bouncing off the guitarist, all the classic integers of post-New Romantic 80s pop stylings. What expression is that Peel pulls as Jensen does the song intro?

Thursday, 2 February 2012

2nd February

1984: Things that pop culture history has kindly forgotten number something - Musical Youth had loads of hits. Six in the top 40, in fact, this one introduced by David Jensen not quite getting the hang of the Peel crosstalk just yet. The input of the drummer and his Pat Cash headband on BVs is particularly inventively handled. Those voluminous yellow shorts were all the rage then, but she's still clearly too old for you, kid. No wonder Matthew Wilder and his scouser tache felt hiding among the punters was the best course of action. That group around him were exactly what provincial nightspots in Essex looked like in 1984.

1995: The launch show for some new titles - these - and new frontiers in dance representation, courtesy of Paul Oakenfold's Perfecto Allstarz reworking of Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag, a track that apparently ultimately lent itself to trumpet-playing skeletons.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

1st February

1968: no clips of this one, it's long wiped, but there is something notable about this show. At the outset of 1968 the show tried pairing Jimmy Savile and occasional stand-in Pete Murray up with various co-hosts, sometimes special guests (Lulu and two of the Monkees had a go) but mostly a grab-bag of Radio 1 jocks, which means the likes of Stuart Henry, Tom Edwards and Chris Denning have Pops hosting records. On this show, the call went out to one of the hosts of the Sunday afternoon "rock and progressive music" magazine Top Gear, and that is how John Peel made his TV debut. "Half mad with terror, I forgot the name of Amen Corner and was banished into the outer darkness for 14 years" he later confided to Radio Times readers. That last bit is worth remembering for a few days.

1973: Noel Edmonds had only been on the Pops presenting roster for six months or so - apart from the 1972 Christmas show, this is his oldest surviving appearance - but he's still very much getting the hang of the 'light hearted but officious' character we'd come to know and... know. Mind you, just look in these clips at this outfit he chose, the tank top and Burberry pattern frilly bow tie look completely at odds with everything. Thin Lizzy are first up with one woman dancing oddly close to the drumkit and the staging doing Eric Bell about as many favours as his mane gives him. The more traditional Tony Christie knows the value of a big coat, though his strutting during the instrumental bits is that of a man not challenged to do this sort of thing before in front of a big TV crowd. Meanwhile Electric Light Orchestra brought their bust and Jeff Lynne half-inched the aluminium foil and milk bottle top collection from that year's Blue Peter appeal.

1979: How did Generation X ever get caught up in punk? Well, because they played at the Roxy and had riots at their gigs and that, but by the time they were having hits it was just Billy Idol's hair and sneer keeping the punk spirit alive in the face of the increasing general influence of original rock and roll. Note the one bloke bravely keeping his pogoing up.

1996: Lee Evans' turn at the hosting mike this week, and he wasn't going to let up the act whatever the surroundings, whether that be the three different dance routines and industrial gloves of Technohead's hired hands or, well, Radiohead. Penny for your thoughts on that intro, Thom. And that outro.