Tuesday, 31 July 2012

31st July

1975: Marc Bolan famously dated Gloria Jones for years - she was driving when he was killed - so got her a role in T.Rex, officially on clavinet, though there's none audible here while there's an organist off to one side.

1986: As the uploader notes, this is a full edition of Top Od The Pop's, beginning with Spandau Ballet and Five Star against projected industrial fans; part two sees Mike Reid make a knowing reference without a safety net within the Breakers before Stan Ridgway and his scary dummy return; Chris De Burgh is your new number one in part three.

Monday, 30 July 2012

30th July

1981: There's someone dressed as a clown behind Duran Duran. For once in the new romantic era you can't say the same of the band, but some of those suits must be quite polyester. Logic rules as Kim Wilde's Water On Glass is illustrated by shots of... some water. On some glass. Legs & Co? They're dealt a hand and a half, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's Hooked On Classics. No wonder the pale leotards and arm waving are as far as they dare go.

1987: Hue & Cry again, but this is really here a) to pad the post out a bit and b) for the girl behind Bruno Gary at the start who applauds with everyone else, stops to fiddle with a ring, realises she's on camera and starts clapping with declining enthusiasm as if nobody had noticed.

1992: The never knowingly overdressed Betty Boo doesn't have the most convincing guitarist you've ever seen. By contrast Roxette are all too keen to show their stadium rock pose chops even though it's Marie's turn to sing after some none too committed keyboard playing. Madness build their own Underground station for their pre-Madstock comeback.

1999: At this time Pet Shop Boys decided they were too old for pop so had a Kabuki-inspired image change. They could do this because they were the Pet Shop Boys and Neil Tennant knows far more about culture than you do. Lee from Madness also had a special costume, one of slightly different sourcing. All makes Five in their big bulky jackets look a bit silly.

2004: Live from Gateshead Quays, TOTP's first ever outside broadcast and the latest attempt to freshen and variously rejig the show and expectations therein. Girls Aloud, containing a local front and centre, did their best to curry local favour. Certainly people seem surer about them than Natasha Bedingfield, though one refuses to believe the same people go as mad for Lostprophets no matter how smartly turned out they are.

2006: But none of that really worked, so here it is. After all the revamps, all the callbacks, all the trips out... the final show, officially hosted by Sir Jimmy Savile, Tony Blackburn, Dave Lee Travis, Mike Read, Janice Long, Pat Sharp (who only hosted the show proper seven times - maybe he was there for the experience having also hosted the final The Roxy), Sarah Cawood, Reggie Yates, Edith Bowman and Rufus Hound. Not even Fearne, away hosting that staggering success Love Island. Still, only one man could have ended it all. Ever since there's been at least biannual stories about the BBC wanting or Simon Cowell claiming he's about to start a "new Top Of The Pops" but nothing solid ever comes of them. Perhaps there really was only ever one.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

29th July

1976: Thin Lizzy, Lynott in his big reflective shades, set the standard. The Chanter Sisters, whitefro in clear evidence, fail to live up to it. Ruby Flipper's interpretation of Walter Murphy's disco classical crossover involves a lot of leg crossing and not much else. On the girls' part, anyway.

1982: In front of far too many people in deely-boppers, Dexys Midnight Runners' Kevin Rowland holds his hands behind his back, a stentorian vision in rags. Not something that will ever be thrown at Elkie Brooks, slowing down Nights In White Satin even further with a guitarist with a Union Flag on his guitar long before it became iconic. The real jeopardy comes in the form (here from its repeat) of The Firm. Almost too much to ask about this. Things to watch out for: the scrolling chorus lyrics on the screen (watch for the girl attempting to read them at point blank range at 2:09), the row of kids from 1:47 clapping along while seated with their back to the stage, some kid shouting "e's alright!" too early during the gap at 2:23, the visual comedy with the phone at 2:54 and, oh, all of it. Their rundown photo at 28 is quite something too. The western theme just before the top ten... dunno.

1993: Busy reviving Grease in the West End ("one of the hottest musicals in England" says Dortie as if Scotland or Wales has a live contender), Craig McLachlan and Debbie Gibson (and Shane Richie at the back) have a quick dress rehearsal. And they get cut off before the end, which is gratitude for you. Those trouser designs Dannii Minogue and dancers exhibit weren't even in fashion then. Who decided which of Take That should get shirts and which shouldn't? Weigh-off?

Saturday, 28 July 2012

28th July

1977: Are Thin Lizzy really improved by slow dancing couples, much slower than the song's rhythm at that? And is Legs & Co doing sit down routines in a dodgem, Lulu as designated driver in her jauntily coloured chauffeur's cap, really what Jonathan Richman had in mind?

1983: Mike Read in shorts! At least a week's written notice, please. A very underwhelmed intro for KC & The Sunshine Band. Perhaps they'd seen what the dancers had planned too. Zoo are a real nuisance this week - their Elvis Costello treatment sadly is no longer on YouTube but has to be seen to be believed, but they don't have a problem attempting to upstage The Lotus Eaters. And then the Dynamos turn up to illustrate Malcolm McLaren's Double Dutch - and the producer gets their own people to do their own skipping! Not even Double Dutch style, just normal jump rope! There's already people just over there, having travelled all the way from Harlem for their artistry, doing that to a much higher standard! You didn't do that to Jeffrey Daniel. Wisely Zoo don't go anywhere near Robert Plant, though a decent hairdresser should have. The rundowns include Read somehow losing a baseless arm wrestle.

1988: Shakin' Stevens embarks on an attempt to catch out the director, running and spinning all over the place before resorting to waggling his arse at the audience. That's how they all used to be in rockabilly, as by 1988 dancing had been reduced to movements led from the shoulders going by Yazz & The Plastic Population. Very odd editing blights Siouxsie & The Banshees, cutting from Siouxsie's in-studio vocal to the video on random lines. More people should have used an empty mike stand as a hatstand.

1994: Shampoo must be where the archetype of one hand on the hip to signify female attitude started. Big shades, obviously. Red Dragon could only afford two sets of dancers, meaning great big empty space behind them. Erasure surrounded by pansies? Too easy on their part.

2000: Destiny's Child in their best gold trousers, Robbie Williams with his extravagant walking and bulldog T-shirt. What's the "3-0!" about?

Friday, 27 July 2012

27th July

1967: Clearly looking at his table Fluff's a busy man with no time for introductory fripperies, so despite Dave Davies' protestation/accusation his error might have just been an oversight. Fluff seems to ignore him regardless. That set is a little overelaborate, isn't it?

1989: They tended not to cheer someone getting up in those days, as Kirsty Maccoll proves. She famously had stage fright for most of her career, so maybe it was a "when you're comfortable..." deal. Matt Goss, having seen Ken off from Bros, now loses the conventions of mike miming. Still, watch him move.

1995: The musical career of PJ & Duncan is still a thing of curiosity and scorn. Note the dancers playing out the Sharks and Jets of synthetic mid-90s leisurewear, but at least their routine is more controlled than Boyzone's. The incident having happened just a month earlier, Supergrass' Mickey Quinn sporting a Hugh Grant mugshot T-shirt to perform this song was inevitable.

2001: Geri Halliwell finds a group of women more fragile than her. They Might Be Giants are more out of place, but they're damned if they're not going to give it a good going over.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

26th July

1979: The 800th show, which explains the slow pan at the end of Showaddywaddy. The choreography got more complicated at the years progressed. Not something that can often be said of Legs & Co, here not only revealing their questionable taste in special gifts but illustrating Patrick Hernandez in rather too literal costumes. Sue says this was one of her least favourite routines in her five year stint on the show, and at 2:08 you can probably tell why. Buzzcocks and The Undertones with overactive Sharkey keep up the apres-punk spirit but maybe the likes of Spyro Gyra spoke more for the age - sax, moog, active bongo player and stupidly haired bassist. And that's before we've got near the extraordinary deadpan of Telex. Pre-recorded footage? Was that allowed?

1984: The first time Neil was on the show (on the 12th), John Peel cheerily introduced him with something in keeping with its intentions. This second time he was on, he was introduced by DLT. Note the difference. Again, Nigel Planer keeps his end up, not pratfalling but aided by a well placed smoke machine. So yeah, DLT, who we see before Phil Fearon & Galaxy with an arm around a curiously coiffured Janice Long's shoulder. The backing singers show what number they can count up to. Shakatak's Bill Sharpe is nobody's mate this week, though his shirt is even more hideous, the attention taken by Jill Saward's adventurously cut dress. Having not been allowed on first time around Frankie Goes To Hollywood were evidently ever ready to come on every week they were allowed. Someone had been handing over Neil's leftover flowers in preparation.

1990: River City People considered the Mamas and the Papas incomplete without a hat.

1996: Well, there's an intro the rest of the programme may not live up to. After it, Pato Banton and Mark Morrison, both with sidemen who are more proactive than the featured singer, if Morrison's decision to wear a canary yellow suit doesn't count. Spice Girls went to number one while still in Japan but clearly the bookings weren't quite coming in yet as they had a night free to stand on a small bridge. A warm night, clearly. Mel B seems more up for it than her colleagues. Look at her nearly taking Geri out during the first chorus.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

25th July

1985: Prancing taken to new levels by Arrow, while what his backing singers make up in choreography they lose in colour matching. Trans X's futuro-Dollar schtick seems designed to have aged on the spot, especially now the idea of travelling through hyperspace at the speed of light jars with the central dream of video. Who brought the hostess trolley? Thank goodness for a bit of class, or as close as Feargal Sharkey can get with his inaudible guitar strokes. Note Dixie at the start of that clip surrounded by a living tableau of 80s cliche.

1997: Robbie Williams' desire to be, rather than fight, Liam Gallagher has kind of been redacted from his personal history now. In his big coat, shaven head and unsure expression he must have either been on his way to, on his way back from or on day release from rehab. Meanwhile Gala demonstrate why dance hit singers who insist on live vocals tend to let other people do the dancing.

2003: After a link from Liz Bonnin that makes precious little sense, Murderdolls demonstrate the difference two decades made to TOTP. The audience punch the air in time regardless of whether they understand what's going on; in 1983 heavy metal to a Pops crowd would have been met by open apathy. Super Furry Animals bring along men in costumes; the director and floor manager hides them.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

24th July

1975: Played out not just to an audience of millions but also Edward Heath, who'd come down to the studio without warning. That's how big a fan of The Sweet he was. No, not really, he was drawn in by the presence, children seated around him like some easy listening zelig, of Bing Crosby (Johnny Pearson: "I had a tap on the shoulder and Heath said 'do you think you could get Bing's autograph for me?'") Listening at the end Bing was clearly fascinated by the possibilities of Pan's People, who appeared twice, in jeans that really hadn't been treated well in the wash to Hamilton Bohannon and satisfying both uniform and underdressed preferences, though the director is skimpy on the latter, for Typically Tropical, who you'll notice have drafted in some black backing members just in case. Sure the plane in that backprojection is flying backwards. If you thought Bing was out of time and place, what of Roger Whittaker? And to emphasise it was fun for all the family, The Wombles with their normal sized guitars and drums but outsize harmonica. Where's the alienating strangeness? One emergency call to chez Mael later Sparks fill the gap, Russell in his shortest shorts, Ron... Ron. What does everyone turn round to look at around 2:25? It's not the crane camera, they're looking past that.

1998: Jamiroquai's Jay Kay has his area of dancing delineated by two tellies.

Monday, 23 July 2012

23rd July

1981: When they write the story of early 80s chart pop medleys rarely get a look-in, but after Starsound's surprise success everyone seemed to be at it. On this show alone Back To The 60s by the original studio-bound version of Tight Fit was followed by Gidea Park deciding a single basic disco drumbeat was just what the Beach Boys back catalogue was missing.

1992: Sunscreem's cast of many, including two completely useless entities, are led by the sort of haircut you only got within the mainstream and away from Levellers gigs for about three months in 1992. Meanwhile Enya's piano hasn't really been decorated with due care if you look at the floor around it, though in fairness those Stepford cellists would disconcert me too.

1999: Madness - back in town and still playing it up for all they're worth, as they have every right to do. Cerys Matthews of Catatonia learned to love the camera but maybe never the stylist, sporting a million bracelets and some sort of crown and overdoing it so at 1:58 she briefly turns into Bjork. In impression terms Yomanda has the right idea with dancing majorettes, though before long they just become 'dancers', allied to a seasickness inducing visual effect. Through the magic of recordings for foreign TOTP franchises Destiny's Child do their well drilled thing and their grouching about automobills, whatever they are, in the round.

2006: Snow Patrol. Not particularly exciting in and of itself, but (albeit here from a German version reshowing) the final live act to ever perform in the studio...

Sunday, 22 July 2012

22nd July

1976: Interesting thing to note about David Dundas' performance, apart from that the jeans-flogger is wearing slacks; down the front are three dancing girls in T-shirt emblazoned 'HOT GOSSIP'. Arlene Phillips' decency-challengers did exist at the time, but didn't get on telly properly until 1978. A guerrilla move on Phillips' part? Next time he was on, he was accompanied by Ruby Flipper. Perhaps everyone was distracted by the sequence in which the director tries to catch out Steve Harley. Johnny Wakelin & The Kinshasa Band incorporates two drummers *and* a man on various percussion, all of it at once. 1776 pay tribute to the US bicentennial with a man who bears a striking resemblance to the notorious prisoner Charles Bronson; 5000 Volts return having forgotten to bring the talkbox, as you can see when the ever mugging guitarist clearly goes to use it to find it's not there just after Linda Kelly gets too much of her hair in her mouth at 1:43. And then there's Sheer Elegance, perhaps one of the most morally dubious records ever on TOTP, especially if they're going to be wearing boxing gowns and handling pairs of knickers.

1982: Full marks to The Belle Stars for effort, but there's not a lot of actual clapping going on. Or convincing miming. Roger Kitter's McEnroe spoof The Brat might have worked better in its mis-en-scene were the in-vision audience not busy with their own choreographed moves. Someone's outdone themselves there. The rundown is worth watching for Simon Bates' apology that there's so much ahead the pre-recorded and skilfully edited show might overrun. That bodybuilder at the end should have been told where to get off.

1993: With their getting it together in the festival country vibe The Waterboys seem hugely at odds with the pillars of fire their set's been assigned.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

21st July

1966: Zoom out a bit! Recently discovered and grandiose, The Walker Brothers. Neat shape throwing into the climactic chorus.

1977: Bay City Rollers saw their own way out and there's not a stitch of tartan around the place, though Eric's knee high hooped socks suggest he hasn't grown up per se. There's more of a reaction to The Jam than on their first appearance, if not necessarily from the director who mixes Foxton's interjections in the middle to a tight close-up of Weller. Given their brotherhood there's something dubious about the little looks Bobby Alessi is giving Billy. Attracting even less attention is the pimped up Danny Williams reinterpreting the Martini jingle to an audience more concerned with the camera.

1983: There's a duo from the gods, Jimmy Savile (who'd been wearing that T-shirt on the show since the mid-70s) and Pat Sharp. Roman Holliday prove there was once such a vacancy as 'new Haircut 100'. Unfortunately everyone decided their drummer was trying far too hard for comfort. Meanwhile, Jimmy The Hoover were being upstaged for the second time, this time by a man threatening to throw fire right across the studio. His bravery and skill is admired by... nobody, they're all watching the band. Nice drumkit set-up. Amid this jumble of link-free clips from that week comes Gary Byrd & The GB Experience (via Zoo), The Cure and Paul Young in full. As usual Robert Smith considers miming guitar a mug's game.

1994: Another full show, this one fronted by Julian Clary in typically restrained form and demonstrating his common touch with a crowd. Highlights include Clubhouse bringing an uncomfortable summer setting to the show in the form of parasols and the first visit of Mr Punch since Joy Sarney took his name in vain, The Grid nodding to A Clockwork Orange while demonstrating the least necessary hypeman perhaps in the show's history, PJ & Duncan's hi-vis dancers and Skin diplomatically ignoring Clary.

2000: Via satellite, Aaliyah and some dancers drilled to within an inch of their lives.

Friday, 20 July 2012

20th July

1978: Sham 69's Jimmy Pursey always had to get his word in, didn't he? He's not actually a Londoner, by the way. The New Seekers think they're the Beach Boys, Child think they're someone far more melodramatic.

1989: The girls love a bit of shoulder. London Boys really go for their dance moves, and you suspect they know they can do much better had they not had the tiresome task of having to pretend to sing. The Blow Monkeys unite the tribes of XR3i soul-pop and anti-Thatcherism with a yellow mini-dress.

1995: Oh lord, they gave one-joke Gayle Tuesday the TOTP gig. How was that explained to Corona? Lots of flashing lights do their job for them. Recently downsized Take That still had enough about them and their faux-angelic costumes to make a choirboy groove.

2001: Sharleen Spiteri was considered something of a style guru in Texas' heyday. By the time they were adding scratching to their old songs she was reduced to a tracksuit. Ash's Tim Wheeler manages an even more contentious angle on the Johnny Rotten T-short of lore while forcing Charlotte Hatherley to play while sitting down with little leg room. Super Furry Animals brought their special vocoder mike and their Pete Fowler design lectern, which can't be much use for much else when used together.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

19th July

1979: Darts were never the same presence once Den left, especially as it's only now the director thinks to put them in split screen. Even if Hegarty was still around they'd have conclusively lost the battle for disturbing focal presences, as anyone would on a show Sparks are also on. More proof that eventually TOTP stood down and just put any punk on comes via UK Subs, Charlie Harper playing his part up even more than Jimmy Pursey did. The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde is a femme fatale in a golfing jumper. Now, did nobody tell Legs & Co, intepreting Donna Summer, what befell Pan's People when they tried to include dogs in a routine?

1984: No pledges to break wind in your kitchen from Messrs Powell and Skinner, but The Mighty Wah! fulfil their part of the entertainment bargain. Billy Idol has the sneer in place and Mr T-rivalling amounts of jewellery. For The Kane Gang one singer just wasn't enough. Amazing how that melodica sounds like a harmonica. Blancmange swap everyone else's choice of synthpop instruments for tablas and... whatever that is, and check the trumpet player blithely wandering on at the end for his moment. Then Divine - "a cult figure in movies for some eight years!" comes on and all bets are off. Cutting some real moves towards the end.

1996: Rock Therapy... well, the caption explains who they are and what they're there for, but the presence of people who in some cases hadn't been on the show for two decades doesn't seem to excite anything, especially not an audience of Gary Barlow fans extremely excited by his minor piano chords. But there was something else emerging that week, something much bigger. It's odd that Spice Girls hadn't been on pre-release given their hype, though equally so that they were already in Tokyo the week their debut single hit the charts. Geri's already pointing a lot. Mel C's in Liverpool kit and big trainers. Victoria's in... trousers? Brown cords, too.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

18th July

1968: If ever a song was still exciting while never quite topping its first two seconds... Funny how The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown takes that off his head before commencing the limbular dancing, and note how his effort has comprehensively overshadowed the occult-wear of Arthur's bandmates. With all that dry ice about and with a flaming crown on the floor it's a wonder he doesn't do himself serious mischief.

1985: That start's going to be hell for BBC4 to edit come August 2020. Simply Red's Mick Hucknall wears a flat cap incorrectly, The Cool Notes have trained their musicians' movements better than those of their singers, The Cult's Ian Astbury works the big hat and carrying the mike stand around on their TOTP debut, and Jaki Graham brings a backing singer who insisted on wearing all her necklaces at once and the most extensive keyboard rack since prog. And then, Russ Abbot. Not Atmosphere, but you can practically sing it over the top of this. He doesn't even do anything funny. Plus ca change.

1997: How big were Oasis in July 1997? So big the show allowed them to play all six and a half minutes of D'You Know What I Mean? One of the Gallaghers is clearly more enthused about the closing prospect of a mass stage invasion than the other.

2003: Pink does the live rock version of her single, but with dancers. It doesn't gel.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

17th July

1986: Something inscrutably worrying about the model soldier slumping to attention behind Stan Ridgway.

1998: AfterCeline Dion & the Bee Gees gather round Robin's big piano and Barry dresses like it's still 1978, Pras Michel is tasked with geeing the crowd back up. Canibus gives replacing ODB a shot but it's just not the same. Garbage try the more direct route, and don't think the cameraman hasn't spotted Shirley's hemline. Everything there is at least more interesting to watch than Eagle-Eye Cherry and his fully conscripted private army of acoustuc guitar players.

Monday, 16 July 2012

16th July

1970: Sometimes you come across these weird clips from German TV of TOTP footage, usually from otherwise wiped shows, being played to barely interested modern day kids. The best bit of this Shirley Bassey Beatles cover is the girl right at the end, dead centre and at the front, who's heard there's something going on involving a singer and a TV recording but is hoping someone will eventually tell her where it is.

1981: The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal represent, Saxon with flying V, bared chest hair and kids trying to remember what it was they did to punk all in working order. "If you want action you've got it" Peter Powell says, and Dexys Midnight Runners' movements must be hell on the knees of the horn section and guitarist, all in their boxing training tops and little ponytails.

1987: While this Bananarama clip was filmed in London - usual drill, three women blithely sing in unison while in vaguely fashionable threads, quite some puffball skirt there - this clip is one borrowed from the shortlived US TOTP adaptation that ran for a year on NBC. Much the same approach, really. Back in a Simon Bates world Hue & Cry have their smart suits and haircuts, and then the pianist moseys on in shorts.

1992: Any dangerous chemical leak from all that dry ice and The Wedding Present are comfortably prepared. Sophie B Hawkins can't say that now, can she, having turned up in her pyjama top. A rare sighting via satellite of Billy Ray Cyrus' logo, half-inched from some early 90s video production company. His wading-backwards dance for the break is quite the thing.

1999: The fullest of production numbers greets Ricky Martin, from the multitude of small candles to the couch for the horn section.

2006: That's the easy way out, McFly, do a song the kids already know. And those are kids who get really excited by some sparks. Danny tries to make his jump onto the piano look spur of the moment, hoping we don't spot that great big box. Franz Ferdinand start the Katherine Hamnett revival.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

15th July

1971: Classic The Who in all their active finery, not really in need of a very odd overlaid/CSO occasionally black and white effect.

1976: Let us join hands and acknowledge the exquisite awfulness of Glamourpuss. Assuming that's not Carol Vorderman on the right. Ruby Flipper really were a kinetic presence on the show, firstly breaking out the big coats and land girl outfits for The Beatles and then working an angels and devils theme in aid of Tavares, Cherry's face pulling abilities in full working order.

1982: Hot Chocolate hire a couple of Tesla coils. Yazoo's Alison Moyet is rarely fully dressed without a warm coat and hat. (By the way, if any of you do invent time travel, go and slap that bloke in the bow tie behind Peter Powell, would you. Hard.) David Essex is your Italian waiter for the evening. Does his sax player ever actually play that instrument? And while we're talking fashion, the famous look and first listen to the big hit of Dexys Midnight Runners, as the audience keep the red flags flying high. After that the chart rundown begins, starting with a woman behind Powell wearing two hats and ending with a special set of messages from the cast of Fame and Irene Cara.

1993: This, Oui 3, is what all UK hip hop looked like in the early 90s. This, meanwhile, is pretty much what most boy bands would look like for most of the decade, Take That getting their whites whiter.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

14th July

1977: This is the show that brought the underground revolution to prime-time as it showed the Sex Pistols' Pretty Vacant video, but it turned out they weren't even the first punk band on the show as The Saints popped into the studio earlier to, in Chris Bailey's case, make a mockery of the art of miming into the mike. By contrast Jigsaw made the case for alarming falsetto.

1983: Being an electro torch singer doesn't quite work for Heaven 17's Glenn Gregory, though the girls on either side seem to be having fun and Gregory's grin through gritted teeth is sterling. Ian McCulloch of Echo & The Bunnymen boasts hair not so much dragged through a hedge as a hedgehog dragged out of a hedge and placed atop. A surprise glitter fall seems to catch Bananarama unawares. I don't think she's really playing that solo.

1988: The typically understated Wendy James of Transvision Vamp, an explosion of fuchsia fabric. Yes, Simon Bates, that's Salt'n'Pepa alright. The girls next to Bruno Brookes before Wee Papa Girl Rappers seem delighted to have spotted something on the opposite side of the studio, meaning they miss the full glory of the DJ's trousers.

1994: When they were first around Killing Joke would be shot mostly in shadow and be greeted with uncomprehending surliness by Pops audiences. Now Jaz is in plenty of light and, well, look at the hair shaking and jumping at 1:05. Where does that camera he uses on the first chorus come from? Julian Cope perhaps saw this as a challenge and attempts, with plenty of success, to live up to it for oddness. You know where you are with Let Loose, at least. Oh, Richie, point at us again.

2000: Has anyone actually ever sung live into a headset mike on television? Steps and Atomic Kitten fly the flag for pop dancing. The latter is built on a sample of the theme from the film The Big Country, a source which Jamie makes far too much of and then is barely audible.

Friday, 13 July 2012

13th July

1972: Talk about a classic period in rock's rich tapestry - just last week (in 1972 terms) we had Starman, and here's another performance that made its singer a legend on the spot. Alice Cooper was dawdling at 44 at the time; one liberated balloon, one uncommon stage invader and four weeks later it was being repeated as the number one. Mary Whitehouse complained about the sword, it's said.

1978: Why, it's as if Bob Marley & The Wailers are in the centre of New York all along. Renaissance seem to take in every type of music, bar glam, from about six years earlier at once.

1989: Typical late 80s smooth soul-pop from Waterfront.

1995: Presented by Dale Winton in the exact way you'd expect Dale Winton to host Top Of The Pops, the start and end of this one are online; to start, Jinny and MN8 could dance all night; at the end Dale delivers the greatest sentence ever uttered about Courtney Love before Edwyn Collins repeated, Supergrass and the Outhere Brothers. That audience really are well trained.

2001: Weezer's only studio visit, the title changed (as it was on Radio 1) from Hash Pipe. Rivers remembers too.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

12th July

1979: Especially if you're the sort of person who, like Mike Read, dons a helmet to introduce The Police - and in a confusion of roles it's Stewart Copeland who dons the yellow and black jumper - this week provides something of a challenge to the family viewers. Firstly Siouxsie & The Banshees intersperse some divebombing darkness with school drawing lesson pictures, then Public Image Ltd career down an even bigger, bumpier crater, complete with Lydon's ear defenders ("I was determined to do TOTP even though it was pure hell. I want that record to be heard. There's no point hanging onto principles and morals if nobody in the world can hear you") and Jah Wobble's purposefully blacked out teeth.

1984: For the second Pops in a row John Peel - alongside Tommy Vance, which must have been some green room, and next to Vance a woman in a hard hat - draws attention before Shakatak to "my mate Bill Sharpe" and his poor choice of leisurewear (Sharpe had been a BBC studio manager and was close friends with Peel and John Walters). Still in jazz-funk Phil Fearon & Galaxy have been downsized significantly. At least they're enjoying themselves, when you get guitar bands like Echo & The Bunnymen on the show they're only ever very serious in approach. Right? On a different plain altogether, Neil. Nigel Planer goes method, and audible audience laughter over the backing track is a very wonderful thing. Those flowers got a second use in perhaps a more symbolic way than anyone brandishing them could have realised, as with a sense of inevitability for the time Frankie Goes To Hollywood were still number one.

1990: The Soup Dragons pull off all the classic baggy stage moves. Junior Reid is less confident, completely missing his initial cue. Still, the girls seem to like him.

1996: Once past their indie associations and into pop stride Shampoo weren't exactly subtle, were they? Similarly your host, the semi-legendary Bear Van Beers, at general work here either side of Belinda Carlisle in her big mac. Toni Braxton's drummer is a big show-off awaiting a moment that he knows never comes. Just for Super Furry Animals' debut Gruff Rhys picked out his best shirt.

2002: A moustachioed Jamie Theakston thinks Amy Studt is like Tori Amos despite her not being a pianist, which you'd imagine would be quite crucial, and possibly having somehow never heard of Avril or Alanis. Studt picks the close up at the end as the moment to start picking hair out of her mouth. The lighting director's notes for Idlewild simply read "just stick some lightbulbs up, the rest will sort itself out".

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

11th July

1985: Presumably as a quasi-injoke related to their radio status against that of the telly work, John and Janice would often start the show with knowing talking-down faux-enthusiasm. Here John gets one quick last joke in about The Conway Brothers, who did all normally play instruments but for their mimed work seem to prefer sort of jogging and jumping on the spot. Dave Stewart for once leaves the smug face pulls to Eurythmics' session bassist, who even gets his own garden chair. There's enough bad moustaches and trousers to go round to ensure Opus live up to cliche comedy. Somewhere amid the top ten videos Denise LaSalle and her frightwig leads the audience, in their hats and vests, in some sort of side to side swinging and clapping. Like the shortlived Top Ten Videos concept we don't often get to see the Breakers, so let's take that opportunity. Includes Russ Abbot clip and Peel looking horrified at Long's dancing at the end.

1997: A string section, a gospel section, a grimacing drummer, and all for 911. The arm waving from the audience doesn't last as long as all must have hoped, but Hey Jude clapalongs will solve everything. That's Alisha's Attic at the end, by the way. No, this crowd is only going to be enthused to the point of moshing by, as unlikely as it seems, Teenage Fanclub.

2003: As Liz Bonnin gets awkwardly stuck at the back of the stage S Club 8 (nee Juniors) do their vaguely unwholesome thing in front of a giant version of one of those buzzing wire/hoop games. Lisa Marie Presley's hitmaking potential really didn't last long, and it's not tricky to see why.

2006: Perhaps in a portent of how useless the studio concept that had worked so well the past 42 years was now seen, the show was presented from and almost exclusively featured content from T In The Park. And yes, kids, somehow the show died.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

10th July

1975: Fuzzily - well, the rest has been wiped, you take what you can - The Sweet go hard rock, Brian Connolly hitting a very acute high note on the last mention of the title in the first chorus.

1986: The Real Roxanne and Hitman Howie Tee, one more energetic than the other. The earring must be weighing him down.

1998: Erring on the side of caution, the director shies away from fifteen year old Billie's midriff unless it's necessary. The audience have learnt the words by the end. Matthew Marsden tries the sophisticate's seated singing position, but nobody can really exude elan with a Corrie background and a hooded top.

Monday, 9 July 2012

9th July

1970: Did Pickettywitch really have a member who only played shaker?

1981: The 900th show, hosted by a team of all the past talents - Jimmy Savile, Alan Freeman, David Jacobs and Pete Murray - and launched by the debut of new titles and Yellow Pearl, as Jimmy is keen to get across in his frantic opening link. Phil Lynott there being addressed by his official title. Watch the pair of them in the background during Kirsty Maccoll, they're getting on like a house on fire. The pianist meanwhile wants his own focal attention. For the occasion a spectacular quick cut montage of the show to date was made, in which Bowie and Bolan seem to have been less notable than Showaddywaddy. Pete Murray's intro to Legs & Co's work with Tom Tom Club seems to include a cue for masturbation. Well, at least be honest about it. And to crown this all-out multicolour fun pop party? Um, the Specials. The best bit is when Terry starts skiing, closely followed by Jerry attempting to deconstruct the set dressing. Such devil may care attitudes may be because Terry, Neville and Lynval told the rest of the band they were leaving the band in the dressing room before filming started.

1987: Redubbed-from-the-record Pops clips, eh? Can't live with 'em... Still, worth it to see Shakin' Stevens' experiments in homoeroticism. By contrast nothing says sophistication like a seated singer, as with Black. Nothing meanwhile says self-pretension like indoor shades all round, as with The Christians.

1999: Note that Blur's audience only reacts when Damon starts singing. Doesn't help that Graham won't look at them. Should take confidence lessons from Lolly, that boy. Semisonic couldn't afford a session keyboard player.

2004: Girls Aloud and their people more often than not came up with grand concepts for their TOTP routines. This time, a beauty salon with inattentive staff.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

8th July

1964: Doesn't exist any more, inevitably, but the Beatles became the first and only band to play three songs on the same show - Long Tall Sally, A Hard Day's Night and Things We Said Today.

1971: As with Bowie a couple of days ago here's a defining image of a glam-pop legend made through a single TOTP appearance, T Rex, Marc's glittery cheek and pink trousers, Elton on inaudible piano (apart from the single glissando, played by Rick Wakeman, there isn't any piano on the record) and multitudinous dancing girls.

1976: Ruby Flipper were out in the Blue Peter garden, taking advantage of the celebrated summer, and went all pagan for the Blackburn-confusing Champs Boys reinterpretation of Tubular Bells. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (odd how Tony doesn't add 'sensational' to their name as he did so often, isn't it?) appeared for a second time, and it looks like, and indeed is entirely plausible that, Harvey hadn't been to bed in the two week interim. Watch for the unspectacular cannon behind him. Quite some image change of shot between Linda Kelly and the rest of 5000 Volts, isn't it? Look out, he's got a talkbox! The Real Thing and their own absolutely unconnected wardrobes were number one, provoking a stage invasion the likes of which would rival any punk gig that year.

1982: Having clearly not had his fill of body popping just yet, Jeffrey Daniel came back a fortnight after his initial triumph for a second bash at Shalamar through the artistry of movement. This time he borrows an old silent comedy visual gag and adds a Marcel Marceau/fates tempting element to the moonwalk. It was another eight and a half months before Michael Jackson did it. If that was the way forward, Trio were very much of their day - battery powered Casios, robot dancers, a giant parasol, the big Pops screen, a cheeky smoke and some sort of drawing competition. How does it all fit together? It doesn't but it's fun watching it try. "Why wasn't that the German entry for Eurovision?" Jensen pointedly states, given Germany had won it with Nicole. Very odd looking man to David's left. Stripes, pantaloons and a headband - the Bananarama guide to 1982 fashion.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

7th July

1977: Imagine if you'd never heard The Rah Band before and then this balaclava'd apparition and its weird moon music emerged from your prime-time TV. The actual Rah Band founder Richard Hewson doesn't actually appear in this version as he didn't want to appear on telly and in fact tried to take the label to court when they threw together this lineup in his place, hence the disguise and the remarkable turnouts of the rest of the band. Dressing up time all round, in fact, with Barry Biggs as a ringmaster with someone in a full leopard suit and makeup sitting behind him never fully focused on by the director like a Pops spectre, and Sue Legs & Co, who'd been a bee a few weeks earlier, now in old lady gear literally overseeing a Boney M routine.

1983: Now this is annoying, it's the actual show where Peel and Jensen became The Rhythm Pals and most of the links, including the first, aren't there. What we do have is The Mary Jane Girls, a muscle man and a trolley dash at a cheap couture store; The Cure steadfastly ignoring the dancing girls in cages, Robert with his usual full blooded guitar miming; Jimmy The Hoover being ignored in favour of some women with streamers; and the all in white Funk Masters attracting people in hats.

1988: Everything But The Girl and Glenn Medeiros, smooth in very differing ways.

1994: In their finest whites Take That got to do the pre-titles intro, and whose idea do you suspect all that was? Yeah, me too. Speaking of clothing, come on, Gun, a knowing red codpiece at least. Wet Wet Wet's reign of terror continued, and this time writer Reg Presley got to introduce it in a style that's not at all slightly embarrassing, especially for a man of his years.

2000: The talent of the set designers is paramount - this is almost an exact urban cityscape around Samantha Mumba. Coldplay made their debut and the kids are clearly more enthused about clapping along than they are for Sid Owen. Never mind, Five & Queen will soon sort that out. That clip, it should be noted, is from its repeat the following week's show, as the number one... wasn't shown. Yes, in a continuity nod to Je T'Aime and Relax, Eminem wasn't played, at least on the prime-time version (they had a Saturday late night repeat back then) for family audience reasons.

Friday, 6 July 2012

6th July

1967: Here's a bit of long, long lost Pops magic only recently unearthed, Pink Floyd (slightly remastered from the original damaged tape) with Syd Barrett wearing a top patterned in a way that pretty much matched his state of mind at the time. Procul Harum were number one, Gary Brooker celebrating by getting the words wrong.

1972: Can one TOTP performance change the course of a career rather than become a mere bold footnote? It comprehensively did for David Bowie, and as one new book argues the whole of pop culture. Whether it be his look, that of the Spiders From Mars or the arm round the shoulder of Mick Ronson, it was an act which famously gave Boy George, Marc Almond and Gary Kemp inspiration to go into music. Mind you, Stuart Hall used to put his arm round Arthur Ellis all the time and nobody was influenced by that.

1978: How's this for overenthusiastic directing? Buzzcocks pay no attention to those who can't abide flashing images. Later, because a busy man's work is never done, Justin Hayward gets every light and mirror image effect that can be thrown at the situation. Peter Powell and all his friends introduce Steel Pulse and then reveals he makes that noise older men do when they get up from an awkward position. City Boy bring their own extra and prop, and unveil a radical two man to a keyboard formation. Legs & Co's interpretation of A Taste Of Honey is most notable for the fashion parade, Sue drawing the short straw with a baggy T-shirt and pink trousers, probably the clothes she turned up to practice in.

1989: Chaka Khan dresses as a cross between a blackbird and a minor Dr Who enemy.

1995: Shaggy's assistant Rayvon seems to be wearing an upside down cap. PJ Harvey does well until it comes to doing something along with the adlibs miming at the end. Presenter's Wendy Lloyd, if you were wondering.

2001: Pops rushes? This seems to be a home video camera recording of Backstreet Boys recording a satellite performance, each member enclosed in their own gate for their own safety. So hot were The Strokes at this point it was rumoured despite this being their first chart eligible single they'd be performing three songs on the show this week. It didn't come to pass, though perversely the show chose the one featuring adult language. Who knew the shouty one out of Mis-Teeq would within a decade be a light entertainment powerbroker? Men in snug vests as backing dancers, as per. James' Tim Booth has his own snug vest, direct from an athletics meet, not to mention a dancing style not dissimilar to Ian Curtis'.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

5th July

1979: Like Fritz Lang's Metropolis, Tubeway Army deal with future dystopia in black and white. Unlike Metropolis, this involves wearing panstick. The Korgis attempt to fuse new wave and soft rock with the inventive sartorial addition of a very long tie over the bass strings. Jimmy and all his friends introduce The Dooleys, bridging the gap between Brotherhood Of Man and the Nolans.

1984: Do you feel Mike Smith found working with Savile difficult? Certainly someone did, it was Jimmy's 276th and last regular show - he'd return in an auxiliary role a month later for a special and then twice more in the 00s to co-host the first show back at TV Centre and the last Pops, but nine months after his penultimate appearance this was his last as a regular host. OMD's Andy McCluskey had by now refined his unique dancing style into mere extended arm movements. Shannon is placed tightly in the middle of the audience and has to sing down to the camera, which seems uncomfortable for a visitor to this country. Is that official Olympic merchandise, Ultravox?

2002: Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea gets to show off his new military beret. Until it falls off from vigorous headbanging.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

4th July

1985: Once Richard Skinner has stopped reading from his script, Dead Or Alive get out their headstock-less instruments. The Damned jumped fully into goth, mass backcombing and all.

1991: How hard does Incognito's drummer hit his drums? They're supposed to be dead miked. On the other end of soul vocal style, Kim Appleby. "This isn't heavy, it's lovely!" indeed. Future Steve Wright sidewoman Janey Lee Grace fronting a song written by Bob'n'Pete of Saint Etienne doesn't necessarily suggest 60s girl group styling, but Cola Boy had a big hit and I haven't, so who's right?

1997: No idea why Fun Lovin' Criminals' Scooby Snacks performance, one in which Huey mostly has better things to do than play guitar, is part-credited as I'm Not In Love. Whoever took the fascinating Paula Cole performance down days ago, put it back, please.

2003: Career making moves ahoy as Beyonce struts, literally, her stuff and sings over her own vocals. In fact she doesn't seem to use that live mike much. "This is no joke-o - it's Moloko!" Yeah, you can see why the BBC place such faith in Colin Murray's presentational skills. Roisin's neon mike stand is a nice touch. Meanwhile, wearing a Thrills T-shirt, Edith Bowman doesn't sound totally convinced about Metallica, who for some reason have got a lights display behind them and their projected logo on a side wall. A perennial visitor at one point Gary Numan returned with Rico and as an industrial outsider. To celebrate, TOTP bring back the negative film flashes of yore. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, meanwhile, turns into an attempt to look up Karen O's skirt.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

3rd July

1986: Even in a pop world that can try and claim Samantha Fox as soft rock chick, By now Wham! aren't even pretending Andrew is adding anything of use. The Housemartins do well out of flogging some scarves to the audience. And then uncomfortableness ahoy for Claire & Friends, the boy in question's name revealed as Stephen. Written for Claire by the latter from Brian & Michael and winner of Saturday Superstore Superstar, once she'd become old enough to mentally configure her relationship with the metaphysical concept of love Claire Usher became part of the Broadway cast of Riverdance, for the record.

1998: Kate Thornton's debut, standing in for an ill Jo Whiley, on a show that ended out going out at 11pm when Wimbledon coverage overran. No wonder Space's Tommy Scott looks concerned and not a little frightened.

Monday, 2 July 2012

2nd July

1981: Complete with projectors not actually projecting anything except their own shadow, The Specials' dark treatise on modern Britain is often said to be the one great moment in pop when socio-political depths were reflected in the charts. Something less said about the record above it that week and still in the top three when it went to number one, Bad Manners' version of the Can Can. Despite the fun behind, the audience clearly couldn't care less - you can hear their conversations and general rustling when Buster emerges. And what happens with the big ending? The director misses it, even though DLT draws attention to it. Linx's David Grant pulls double duty with his transparent drum set. Meanwhile Legs & Co get Quincy Jones's Razzamatazz, which as well as fulfilling the 'in case of uninspired choreography emergency break bikini top glass' part of their contract might be quite a knowing choice, given ITV's Pops rivalling pop show of the same name had started just a month before.

1987: ABC chose their backing singers carefully.

1992: Bernard Sumner again in a troika of classic Pops performers, but presumably Marr and Tennant talked him out of having Electronic doing any more than vocals live.

1999: Jennifer Lopez, a short spangly dancers and the urban dance troupe kept in a box until the time is right. That's all it needed. The 'generic dance hit' troupe came out for ATB. (Don't get confused by that countdown, this is a repeat from the following week's show where it unfortunately looks as if the audience was undermanned but the floor manager thought sticking S Club 7 among them would pad it out. At least Rachel looks embarrassed about it)

2004: Beverley Knight gets her own catwalk and her own feather boa. Oh, these demanding types.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

1st July

1971: Another archived show held in full: part one has a bevy of dancing girls in hotpants and a chart rundown of very little glamour followed by the psychedelic one-two of Atomic Rooster and Medicine Head (jew's harp solo!); part two offers Family, a just pre-glam The Sweet and a lachrymose Gilbert O'Sullivan; part three a video by Three Dog Night, Greyhound and the Delfonics; part four the Supremes and Four Tops running roughshod over Ike and Tina plus Pan's People in what seem to be extended kaftans, the Strawbs and Middle Of The Road. No idea what happened to Jimmy's links.

1982: The next part of Visage's evolvement after Fade To Grey was the new romantic route, hence Steve Strange's suit and the turquoise clad backing singers. And the invisible sax. Dollar's David Van Day has also adopted a neat suit, though there doesn't appear to be much left for Thereza. Maybe she shouldn't have wasted material on that headband. The big faces on the screens is, I'd assume, supposed to be linked with the theme. Big rotating sets and never quite giving away how many members are active at any one time is Zoo's theme for Cheri. Ultimately the stylish John Peel takes full responsibiliy for Captain Sensible and his cast of thousands, some of whom are even doing something.

1993: With Peter Hook donning his best long cardy, New Order were still grimly hanging on to their performance principles. Take That seem to be trying to pass Pray off as some sort of gospel-gothic epic.