Friday, 31 August 2012

31st August

1978: Some top synchronised tambourine action from The Dooleys, one of them bravely recovering from having been attacked by a swan immediately before recording started. Someone is waving their deely-boppers in the air like a flag, which isn't quite the intention. "Something different", I suppose if you've never heard any punk/new wave/whatever before, from a painted up Klark Kent, his masked friends and his new bridge voiceover, all concerned maybe having blanched at "you can suck my socks". A mystery man at the time, Kent was Stewart Copeland, beating his own band the Police to Pops and charts alike. Sting and Andy presumably didn't hold it against him as they're backing him here, along with their tour manager and the drummer from Copeland's previous band Curved Air.

1989: Those dastardly northern clubs, thinks Gary Davies. Damian resembles not so much a glamorous club MC as a first run at a demonic Bombalurina.

1995: Echobelly go back to school. Obviously, only Sonya Aurora-Madan is allowed to forego the basic rules of jackets on at all times and shirts tucked in.

2001: Lights, flowers and geometrically improbable soloing about sums Muse up. Imagine their reaction when they discovered the drumkit destruction happened off-camera. Drum and bass made an injunction with Kosheen, Sian Evans marking the event by donning her goth wardrobe for the summer.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

30th August

1979: Apologies for pretty much posting the whole programme, but there's a thread of fascination running throughout. Secret Affair can't get enough of that mod beat and those jackets, Dollar simper over each other on what seems to be a partly carpeted stage, a seventeenth century witchfinder bops about at the front keeping a close eye on Nick Lowe's bootlace tie, Sister Sledge see Legs & Co literally caught in a trap, albeit not a very strong one, the stage left members of Gary Numan's band may have taken some influence from Kraftwerk, there's a belated studio debut from The Commodores determined not to be run over, The Specials finally get to play together and end up pretty much clambering over each other, Gill's shimmying and spinning fails to distract the masses from Johnny Mathis as the stills photographer gets to work early, and The Stranglers' Dave Greenfield pioneers lax one-handed organ playing.

1984: The greatest ever Top Of The Pops, because it's the most spurious Top Of The Pops ever. Think I'll let the Glasgow Herald's TV listings introduce this one...

That's about what it is. Why, we may never know. Excellently the user who uploaded clips from this show appended that five minute preview to the first performance of the show proper, Tears For Fears (you'll have to go about seven minutes in to see that). Note how Richard Skinner asks Jimmy, a man who knew about Intercity 125s, what his job at the Temple Meads end is and then has to explain it himself. Of course Norris never went anywhere without his pole. Jimmy still commentating as the train leaves, followed by the crash zoom to Skinner and momentary dead air afterwards is a thing of joy. And who's this Trisha Simon Bates introduces? How are BBC4 going to deal with it all come 2019, that's what we need to know. But did it break the record? Let's watch Bucks Fizz - with instruments! - while we wait, as it shouldn't be too long after they've finished their song that... oh. Norris never got such a cheer, that'll all we'll say. Also, that cameraman is going to maim people if he has to. There's still some bands playing normally to "thrilled" people in London, of course, not least another iconic The Smiths moment, followed by a rather less iconic moment as Mike Smith... well, you'll see. Back at Temple Meads, as promised Howard Jones goes walkabout amid not too many plants, much to what we imagine was heavy cameraman and director chagrin at their not being given space to work. And at the end of it all, before people get to dance on the platform or just stand around looking confused, we get the train dedication, "surrounded by nobs".

1990: Betty Boo had been cooking a baked potato one day when inspiration struck...

1996: Louise, TOTP's reigning queen of the pointless headset mike, gets caned. Not something, you imagine, that would have played well with Fluffy. Excellent if brief attempt at a psychotic stare at 0:58.

2002: The Sugababes choreography for Round Round is almost too obvious, surely. Horrible edit at the end. Because nobody had time to talk him out of it, Abs ex of Five sampled the Uptown Top Ranking backing - oh, if only the orchestra had still been around - and actually incorporate "khaki suit and ting". Meanwhile Blazin' Squad's style could best be described as "backstreet angelic gang".

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

29th August

1968: No idea who The Alan Bown Set were, but this grainy footage of their number 27 smash and all its psychedelic lighting exists, so here it is.

1985: Mai Tai adopt the three-girl soul template of the 80s, that of three women, one in a leather jacket and short skirt, gyrating endlessly around the same points. Once Janice has plugged the Live Aid book Dan Hartman - "good bloke", apparently - and his own workmanlike band have promoted the two backing singers to level with the frontman on stage. Potentially dangerous. Speaking of which, surely Thompson Twins have far more room than that to move about in. Alannah Currie was busy inventing Bart Simpson.

1991: As Mark Wahlberg's career progresses Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch seems more and more like a fever dream than a man shouting in a bucket hat he surely can't see out of. He then takes his jacket off to reveal himself shirtless off camera. You'd have thought the screams might have alerted the director. Can't work out if Mark Goodier is taking the piss afterwards. The Farm's bassist takes advantage of playback to dart all over the place as Peter Hooton holds that mike aloft and rigid. Tin Machine's gimmick, other than Bowie's presence, turned out to be instruments with tiny bodies and little or no headstocks. Worth a go. Unlike, say, Arnee And The Terminaters. Steve Wright and Richard Easter's fault. And pop culture's, I suppose.

1997: UB40 erect a massive monogrammed wall at the back. None shall pass, unlike with Symposium, though the traffic is going the other way in that case. The concluding stage invasion includes one man, who you'll see at 3:27, who gets up on stage with no great enthusiasm, almost out of civic duty. As if inhabited by the spirit of Dortie, Jayne ploughs gamely through her script as if nothing was going on behind her.

2003: Not so much flying the flag as wrapping it round a stationary object, a Doherty-less The Libertines rouse rabbles with little in the way of conviction, if that isn't a contradiction. Girls Aloud could have done with buying or renting a couple of armchairs along with the sofa.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

28th August

1975: Easy to forget that Jasper Carrott's single success came well before he was ever a national concern - indeed his first series didn't come until 1978 - hence Tony Blackburn feeling he has to mention he "appears in a lot of clubs" and, in introducing Gilbert O'Sullivan afterwards, claim too highly of his very name. Stout work, though, and on TV Hell's Rock Bottom there's a clip of Jasper waiting for his cue and whiling away the time with his mike. I wonder if Funky Moped and Chris Spedding's Motor Biking being on the same show was deliberate? Already a show veteran as Wellington Womble, he's slicked back and ready to ride responsibly through a village. It's a more convincing look than Desmond Dekker and his plunging neckline top of much fringing - watch for the none more irie pianist, and the photographer near-obliviously wandering through the shot during his solo - or for that matter Kenny, whose singer appears determined to stare down the camera lens, and the bit of jaunty jiving on the second chorus seems oddly placed. Peter Skellern meanwhile went a third way and dressed like Geoffrey Boycott. Now, what to do if the French musicians behind Bimbo Jet are unavailable and, I don't know, Pan's People were washing their hair? Simple - turn to the rampant charisma of the Top Of The Pops orchestra, including the famously prolific Clem Cattini on drums. Would you be surprised to learn it doesn't really sound much like that instrumentally? I don't know for sure, by the way, whether the El Bimbo logo you see from 32 seconds in inspired that of Danger Mouse.

1980: How to make Ian Dury & The Blockheads look even more threatening/disturbing? Add Wilko Johnson, obviously. Look at that shot of him between Davey Payne and Norman Watt-Roy, for instance. And then wonder whether Dury was told the cameraman would get that close behind him. Among other sons of punk, The Skids with Richard Jobson fresh from a bank managerial training course and surf-pop thrills from The Barracudas, their college jackets and their terrible, terrible miming.

1986: Proving his intention not to take his clothes off, Jermaine Stewart has donned a suspiciously white hat while his dancers demonstrate the various lengths of jacket you could buy those days. Stay til the end for some top Peelage into the following video. Meanwhile The Human League women seem to have dozed off.

1998: The Corrs bring their sepulchral Irish charm, Caroline in particular taking every opportunity she can to beatifically smile. Robbie Williams did two songs, hence Jamie's comedy double take of disgust at the start, the first, Millennium, missing online, but this one getting the full treatment, that is to say Robbie hopping from foot to foot.

2005: By the detail the show dropped dancers thirteen years earlier, when Crazy Frog's reign of terror was at its peak the show had to go out and hire some more for the one-off occasion. Bodypop or pyramid, not both. Coldplay's Chris Martin is his usual ebullient, up from the piano when you don't expect it (and then forgetting to sit down for the coda) self, his longeur way with an intro leaving Jonny Buckland visibly staring off into space for nearly two minutes. Their future duet partner Rihanna visited the country for the first time, boasting surprise dancers and a very casual DJing style.

Monday, 27 August 2012

27th August

1981: The Pops crowd go absolutely spontaneously wild, and you can see just how off the cuff their appreciatory applauding is right at the start of this clip, for Startrax, who liven up their Club Disco with no end of bubbles, most of which are still floating around by the time Ultravox show up, Midge in his best flat cap. What's that single snare ever done to him? "A favourite of most of the people here I know", the disjointedness between The Nolans' song and their leather/PVC outfits is, as they say, like woah. Even Soft Cell are more conservative, for all Marc's command of body language. Close-ups of Genesis when Phil is mixing singing with drumming look unnatural with the mike at that elaborate angle. At number one, Aneka - she was a Scottish folk singer, you know - gets a bewigged and parasol-touting Legs & Co involved. The top comment underneath, with nine likes: "those were the days great music great times now all you get these days is shite". LOOK AT WHAT'S NUMBER ONE!

1987: Does Wet Wet Wet's Marti Pellow ever stop grinning or being effervescent? There's little sign of him giving in here. On the contrary, Black, the bassist the most 1987-like figure you may see all month. T'Pau's Carol Decker hasn't quite mastered sensuality yet, especially put against how workmanlike her band seem. And up top, Rick Astley seems to have got a couple of women pogoing. Astley evidently wasn't a smooth dance moves man.

1992: Billy Ray Cyrus is a fairly silly figure at the best of times. In his workout gear and with a huge ponytail it's like he's become a one-man emissary from the deep south to the UK. That audience cannot clap in time at all. Mind you, what could we offer in retalation? Undercover, that's what, with their lamp-posts, interpretative voguers and man who seems to be playing the sax via sucking doing the memory of Bob Holness Raphael Ravenscroft no good at all. Classing up the joint, Annie Lennox dons the scary makeup of destiny. Of course a chandelier is involved.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

26th August

1976: A show looking backwards and forwards: backwards at a surprise return for easy listening's Acker Bilk, forwards at Can inventing post-punk before punk had been invented. The whole three and a bit minutes are extraordinary, from Noel's "absolute wow" intro to the absense of guitarist Michael Karoli - on a safari holiday and couldn't be contacted, apparently - and replacement by a showy Lou Reedagram, not to mention the utter bafflement of the audience, especially what seems to be Richard Beckinsale at 3:08. Very much rooted in 1976, despite the desire of the audience Ruby Flipper are drafted in to dance to Elton John & Kiki Dee. And what a magnificent shambles it is. Ignore the troupe (even the ones miming along), as the cameraman who bumps into Philip at one point does, and, if you can, the array of fashions from the uncooperative audience, and instead watch Noel try to chat up some girls in the crowd.

1982: Perhaps fearing the anti-fashion fashion competition from Toto Coelo and their repurposed dusters, or possibly backing down from forcedness having seen DLT looking like that, Haysi Fantayzee aren't quite as bluntly suggestive this week but they both still dance like they're trying to stamp out a small fire. Still the third man lurks seated at the back. From John Wayne to Saddle Up, jaunty bassist David Christie has Zoo, not for the first or last time, confusing title for content and running a Western motif.

1993: As usual Sisters Of Mercy approach the stage like nobody else. There is a band, they're just miles in the darkened background, as are Mariah Carey's backing vocalists. Know your place, 'others'. Culture Beat at number one are basically all dancers and a man in a hat who barely qualifies as a rapper.

1999: As some form of inclusivity TOTP uselessly went on tour for a few weeks at this point. For week one the chart charabanc turned up in Edinburgh, meaning not only local representation from Texas (who were from Glasgow, but keep that quiet) but giving them carte blanche to do an acoustic album track. Maybe the show needed something to slow it down after the quick directorial cut frenzy of Binary Finary, the reaction to which demonstrates the difference between a club PA and a TV recording. What Hepburn demonstrate is why putting audience behind a band is so offputting. Remaining at a great distance, TLC's Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes seems to be simultaneously providing a sign language service.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

25th August

1977: The whole of the 700th show, not that Noel mentions that at any stage. There's a lot of camera interaction this week what with Barrie Masters of (Eddie And) The (Hot) Rods and a debuting Bob Gelof; there's also Legs & Co literally saluting the week and a bit deceased Elvis, Phil Lynott sporting an artful black eye, the Adverts and a million badges (note how reluctant the director is to pick out Gaye Advert) and Page Three, three actual Page 3 girls, one who can sing but not really in this style and two who can't do that or dance.

1983: Last time we saw David Grant doing this he started halfway up some scaffolding. This time he, his string vest and his council road works tape headband are on stage throughout but those three people on the raised part behind him think they're adding to Grant's Jackson ambitions with their left foot first jigging is unknown. Having put UB40 on too small a stage last time the show makes up by, er, putting them on an even smaller stage, one hemmed in by overelaborate tubing on three sides. No need to bring those bongos, surely. At what point did Shalamar's Jody Watley realise she was doing all the work? Maybe they thought Jeffrey had given them enough respect in the bank. Level 42's Mark King seems lively, The Style Council's Paul Weller artfully restrained.

1988: Jane Wiedlin's signals are all over the place in her half length shorts and tube top augmented with glittery hat. Also, she really can't dance, though you could blame the weight of the guitar.

1994: Malcolm McLaren hosted this week, in the midst of his Paris concept album phase, which meant doing links in French surrounded by a bevy of appropriate lovelies and filmic effects to the performances. Has to be said it's something that suits a returning and classied up Kylie Minogue more than it ever would Shampoo, though their personalised amps are a neat touch. The lightning effect, less so.

2000: Now, all those people clearly didn't play on Spiller's record, did he? And if they did, what's he doing?

Friday, 24 August 2012

24th August

1972: Not so long since Bowie and Cooper's all time classic Pops appearances, here's another one that reverberates down the ages - it's certainly difficult to think of one that's lent itself to as many affectionate spoofs (and yes, Jimmy was presenting that week). Imagine if you'd never heard or seen Roxy Music before this. Glam invented on the spot, some say - though one feels bassist Rik Kenton isn't pulling his costume weight - in front of awkwardly dancing youths and with Eno in his gloved finery at the other end from a camp Ferry. Jools Holland was in the offscreen audience, apparently.

1978: Blondie is a band, they kept telling us. Maybe, but it's only Debbie in the spotlight. That camera shot will never work without flash in a darkened studio. While The Jam - you can tell Kid likes this one, he bellows the title from a standing start - get the big stage, given a corner of the set with minimal bright lighting The Motors look like they're playing a pub circuit venue rather than a TV showcase. It's something that suits Jilted John better, though. Thanks for your concern, Kid. And because you can't get too much of a good thing, after Kid's curiously self-censored intro look who's gazing on bashfully and risking the odd movement in the background of Legs & Co's Boney M dance in the round.

1995: Bjork, given a typically Jarvis Cocker intro, tries to interpret one of her multi-layered epics on her own and eventually plumps for helicopter arms followed by indie disco slouch-strutting. Michelle Gayle did a disco song, so cue the dancers in Afro wigs. It's all we knew in the mid-90s. This was the week after the famous Battle Of Britpop, from which Blur emerged triumphant, and later emerged in a milk float. Look at the back for how little Graham wants to have any part in this. Once Damon's stopped trying to steal Jarvis' coat off his back the victory lap sees Alex offer some sop to the vanquished. Supposedly Cocker's "Blur are... top of the pops!" intro impressed Chris Cowey so much he asked all future hosts to link to the number one in the same way.

2001: Sophie Ellis-Bextor, a massive flower on her shoulder, finds her guitarist attempting to upstage her. Eve and Gwen Stefani indulge in some ass waggling and bra flaunting respectively.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

23rd August

1979: What is Steve Wright going on about? Don't answer that. The Flying Lizards introduce miming avant-garde playing to the television audience. Second question: Were The Planets embarrassed by their use of backing vocalists? Despite putting them in uniform that may be why they're so far from the rest of the band. The Jam's Bruce Foxton was pleased with himself even if he didn't look it, for good reason - he'd gained free entry to museums and theme parks. Nothing complements Randy Vanwarmer more than Legs & Co dancing around big suitcases, evidently. At number one, and there's a little clue to its status here, Cliff Richard, as ever trying his effervescent best. "Shee-ee-ee-ep!"

1984: Do you see what Miami Sound Machine are doing here? Zoo, being Zoo, can't be bothered to join in with the dressing up when for once it might have proved appropriate. Not sure what that bloke next to the bassist thinks he's doing, it's even more evident he's not a member of the band than usual. Alphaville's singer starts with a hand in his pocket, unless it just got lost in a jacket that big. Though the same colour, I doubt you'd even call what Tony Hadley is wearing here a proper jacket but this, apparently, is what sophistication by now looked like to Spandau Ballet. George Michael was at number one, causing Mike Read to call his co-host "Tomski" and Michael to exude.

1990: Credit to The Human League for appearing despite Phil Oakey's leather jacket having been ripped to shreds in the washing machine. The circling shots midway through add absolutely nothing but the sense of motion sickness, much like Lindy Layton adds nothing to Janet Kay's song even though Kay's guesting on it doing that note she does. The dancer in the green catsuit is adding even less other than resembling constant attack by bees. And at number one Bombalurina run through the routine one more time, this time with Timmy in shorts, as was his wont. He's even joining in with the routines now.

1996: Number ten with their tenth top 40 hit, the musical career of Ant & Dec remains a thing of wonder. This one resembles a race to see who can refrain from pissing themselves laughing the longest. Backstreet Boys do it properly, open shirts and white vests guaranteed to send the girls wild. The "UK!" call and response seems to lack a response. Oh look, Bear Van Beers again, introducing OMC's Pauly Fuemana intent on shouting his hit.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

22nd August

1985: After the mess the orchestra made of Wuthering Heights Kate Bush filmed a bit of a dance to Wow and then, aided by her lack of live activity, didn't come back to TOTP for seven years until an elaborate game of What's The Time Mr Wolf? presented itself. They were going to run out of stage sooner or later. A rather less storied and iconic performer, once people have stopped attacking Steve Wright with pom-poms "my favourite" (oh, Steve) Baltimora seems not to have noticed the gorilla on stage with him, though he makes sure to notice one of television's less convincing jungle girls. That big stage plus small amount of people and no dry ice machine because there's sensitive dancing people about conundrum strikes Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam. The two dancers swapping places for a bit isn't enough to cover it.

1991: Jason Donovan's shirt is too glittery by half.

1997: The power of a simple catchy hit - Chumbawamba had only been in the charts for a week and already the audience is singing along to the chorus at a similar volume to the crowd. Look and learn, OTT, with your Air Supply cover and your insistence people sit down to appreciate your all standing at the back of the tiny stage and doing little arm movement routines.

2003: It seems for a while that Rachel Stevens' first solo routine is going to involve her standing stock still while other people do the heavy dance lifting around her, then they decide to tie her up instead. How many practice room accidents do you think occurred from that bit where two dancers seem to tie ribbons round her throat and pull? No sooner has Fearne called Richard X "enigmatic" then it becomes apparent Kelis hasn't turned up and with nothing to cover the vocal, not even video, he has to half-heartedly mime along while people on roller skates cover the visual aspect.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

21st August

1980: As we saw last week with Roger Daltrey's little hissy fits (Cliff Richard took his place this week), The Clash were no more receptive than ever to the idea of appearing on TOTP, supposedly as they didn't want to mime (though there were eventual appearances by Mick with Big Audio Dynamite and Joe, who said in 1979 "it makes me sick that it's still on, I want it to end", guesting with Black Grape), so someone would have to do it for them, and very literally so, though the edible gun barrel is a neat touch. Why wouldn't they want to appear alongside Kelly Marie and her overdressed cabaret dancers, eh? By the way, why did Steve Wright always specify he was presenting "Top Of The Pops 2 from London"? Where else would he likely be?

1986: Depeche Mode arrange the keyboards in a triangle and put Dave in the middle, meaning he has to act the frontman without a front to call his own. Bad planning. Unlike Modern Talking, who lack in band members but make up for in huge light fitting.

2005: Obviously we know they're there so something can be extravagantly ripped off, as it's them, but Girls Aloud's MOT centre chic, especially applied to a song about summer, is something that could have been run with much further. There's not even any cars there, no wonder the staff are having to work on a distraction. Still it's less impressive kitting out than Super Furry Animals' neon coats. Lighting and song breakdown's fault, I know, but the audience seem to think the song has ended at the midway point. Ian Brown has none of the above, but he does have his patented walking on the spot dance to make up for it.

Monday, 20 August 2012

20th August

1981: U2 went international so swiftly they only ever made ten appearances on the show, most of those in the 00s. This is their debut, where the show finally finds a use for that common overlay and Adam still has his early Vince Clarke hair. UB40's open house policy leads to a premium on small stage space.

1987: Graham Gouldman and Andrew Gold, trading as Wax, had been around for long enough to know the secrets of showbiz performace, but as a bass/keyboard duo they look a little overawed on the biggest stage. Someone get them some dry ice pronto. And then... surprise sax! Five Star were renowned for their matching outfits, and those routines seem ahead of their time with, say, Janet Jackson yet to cross over yet, but grey jumpsuits seemingly loosely based on Ghostbusters attire maybe give the wrongfully dowdy impression. Sherrick had everything required to be huge in the late 80s - connections, big Warners deal - apart from his none too effective way of dealing with his receding hairline. And that he got into drugs, threw his advantages away and died aged 41 in 1999. Jon Bon Jovi accessorises almost to parody - massive cloth headband, tight trousers, blonde Agassi mullet, meaningful T-shirt. Speaking of tight pants on men, Sinitta's found a couple of willing volunteers. Those hats with no tops were fashionable for about a year. Then there's an apology for not having a big finish - yeah, Janice, never mind having no representation of the number one record on the chart pop show, eh? And by the way it doesn't have an official video to this day - so the playout is Spagna, looking like Dusty Springfield going to seed and surely about to be assailed by the big balloon from The Prisoner had the show not ended just in time, at number two. It's too easy sometimes to make jokes about big Eighties hair, but...

1992: Extreme were thought such a big deal they not only got the satellite feed but got to introduce the show. According to Mark Franklin KWS covering your song with a leaden dance beat is an "honour". What are all those people actually doing at the back? Even Paul Weller's saxophonist gets an audible presence. There's something of the treading water about Kylie Minogue here - this was a new track on her first Greatest Hits preceding a three year break and change of sound - and a more lively Kylie would have coped better when she joins in with the dancers.

2004: Another example of the Girls Aloud modus operandi - set up the performance theme, then slowly abandon it. Nobody's getting any proper service in that bar-restaurant.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

19th August

1965: "He was talking to Elvis yesterday" Jimmy drops in of Herman's Hermits like it's no big thing. Preferential meeting treatment has clearly annoyed the rest of the band as they've not only isolated Peter Noone but are getting people to push him further away from them and their little podiums. Savile's dancing style hadn't quite achieved full eccentricity yet.

1976: Jesse Green has a full cast of characters accompanying him, including a disco flautist and a drummer not touching his kit at all. "I love doors!" is DLT's less than promising opening gambit for Ruby Flipper's interpretation of Wings, an arrival and departure frenzy involving violent shaking, vigorous campness and Patti arse-waggling.

1982: A bit of retro class... is what Modern Romance were aiming at, but sailor hats, neckerchiefs and string vests are style reminiscent of no era. That doesn't look a very stable microphone. Speaking of wearers of hats commonly found around the shore, Nick Heyward has to wait around for a bit before Haircut 100 kick in. His guitar has grown a tail, look. Or stolen one off a raccoon. Rarely under-theatricised, Captain Sensible literally extends the stage's boundary while Dolly Mixture demonstrate the unique three-people-to-a-keyboard arrangement and the Disney corporation wait for their image rights income. From Wot! to What - they don't just throw these shows together. Soft Cell, and Marc should have left that jumper or whatever it is in the dressing room rather than have it uselessly tied around his waist. For all his occasional future 80s hits and strong image Thomas Dolby only ever made one studio visit but it's typically quixotic, stuck in a wind tunnel with only a small keyboard, a low grade computer, a couple of syn-drums and a smoke machine set too high to work with.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

18th August

1977: The Dooleys woman on left of screen will catch her death going out like that, while Jim in the middle is ready for the cabaret circuit already. Elkie Brooks and band come straight from the garage.

1983: DLT, making a very awkward combination in his Man From Del Monte suit against Gary's tie-dye, is keen on The Kinks' return, Ray in his smartest stockbroker suit and moving his mouth in what seems a very odd and unnatural way. How out of place they seem. Kim Wilde, dressed as a secretary, uses the multi-stage setup pioneered by Adam Ant and soon mastered by Cyndi Lauper. Once across the other side she finds the guitar solo being played a bassist dressed for Rambo. Very quiet clip of Tracie, this, but no impairment to seeing how many balloons the audience can chuck at her. Not online as far as I can tell but also on this show, 'Kraftwerk – Tour De France (Hula Hoop dancer)'. What must that have been like?

1988: Chris Rea, with golf commentator Peter Alliss on bass (possibly), finds a whole new approach to miming a guitar solo.

1994: "Oasis - not a palm tree in sight". Now there's a joke you couldn't get away with in polite society for too much longer. It may be "a very strong message", Bruno, but that's not going to stop the audience apparently silently applauding Noel's solo. Sophie B Hawkins doesn't need a band, just a huge screen. Youssou N'Dour and Neneh Cherry are via satellite on what seems to be a couple of discarded theatre backdrops someone forgot to clear out.

2000: Melanie C expresses the joyous freedom of Ibiza dance by jumping about a bit and adopting Clare Balding's haircut.

Friday, 17 August 2012

17th August

1972: Rod Stewart, in his yellow trousers, overlarge neckerchief and fin haircut, is doing something odd at the start. Who among us believes he really needs that piece of paper?

1978: Electromagnetic interference seems to elbow in on The Stranglers. Maybe it's from this remarkable Legs & Co routine to Cerrone, which starts with the girls as comedy scientists then, with a certain sense of inevitability, ends up with everyone in bras and pants, albeit here styled as cavegirls. Then, fruit appears. Then, fake fruit.

1989: Martika, with her doily sleeves and all sorts of allurring looks, poses in front of the famed grand dry ice waterfalls of Elstree. Some classic arm waving going on halfway through, unreplicated by those in the centre.
Fuzzbox's Vix was kind of a dry run at Wendy James, with the always on show midriff and the trying just that little too hard to please. Here she ends up on all fours crawling along the lip of the stage to absolute crowd disinterest.

1995: Who remembers Wendy Lloyd? No, just generally. The faintly willowy DJ was on Radio 1 for about a year and ended up doing two Pops, of which this was the second, before disappearing off to Talk Radio and then LBC. Here she is introducing post-grunge one hit wonders Moist. That Bjork performance promised in the intro was quite something to throw at a prime-time audience. Does that sound like any accordion you've heard? Deuce, a kind of accidentally released prototype of Steps, believe a gospel choir and wedding dresses instantly convey classiness. If the girls are in wedding dresses, though, why are the boys in bad suits and what appear to Hawaiian shirts? Eventually Oasis appear and a passing friend takes over. As I say, Wendy Lloyd's last show. For some unaccountable reason Bonehead and Guigsy find the guitar solo hilarious and there's fewer close-ups of it than you might imagine. And yeah, they lost that chart battle, but we'll come back to that.

2001: With the show already on the way down Radiohead and Bjork seem absolutely alien to the atmosphere already. The director chooses the latter to debut the ceiling mounted camera, for some reason.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

16th August

1984: Who has the more ungainly glasses, Wright or Peebles? Tears For Fears' Roland Orzabal skis on the spot, while Black Lace turn up with all their friends.

1990: For a band who'd soon go to all manner of public face extremes, The KLF's debut (if you don't count the Timelords) is quite the capsule of the time's dance music on telly look - needless female dancer, camouflage gear and men hunkered down over relatively simple keyboard patterns. An expanded Go West meanwhile make like a soul band with a frontman who looks like he's constantly ready to chin someone.

1996: To think that Steve Lamacq was once considered obvious TOTP hosting material. OMD's Andy McCluskey had long since given the bass and dad-dancing duties over, and surely there aren't that many violinists on the record? The Spice Girls had a second crack at the whole studio thing, an away fixture for Mel C. Geri's bodywarmer chic didn't last.

2002: Status Quo, back to claim what they imagine to be their rightful place. Rick Parfitt attempted to convince all he'd gone Mod. They didn't need suited gimmicks, though. Unlike Bowling For Soup.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

15th August

1974: And they say the BBC gives undue prominence to bands now. The Osmonds were given a whole week of live variety specials in the last week of August 1974, and halfway through their performance space was used so they could co-host a TOTP special with Noel. This seems to be taken directly off VT, oddly. Part one starts, curiously for what is clearly not an ordinary episode, with someone else, a pointy Glitter Band, before Little Jimmy introduces Donny and Marie, and then onto the stylistic jolt of Cozy Powell. A quick step to the side for Donny to remember times alone with Pan's People, who class up the joint to The Stylistics, before part two welcomes a group whom Alan admires for the way they "write their own material", Cockney Rebel hopelessly out of place, unlike Sweet Dreams who follow. Infamously Polly Brown of Sweet Dreams usually performed in blackface so people didn't know she used to be the singer in Pickettywitch, but Robin Nash refused to let her go all the way on TOTP so she settled for a light brown dusting. Part three features a right screaming girl showdown with the Bay City Rollers, followed by Sylvia, and you wonder how that was explained to the brothers. By part four Noel has wrested control back so gets to consider his week before introducing the debut performance of Love Me For A Reason before the Three Degrees' number one before a closing dancealong. Look carefully at the close-up across the performers and note the steadfast refusal of Cockney Rebel to take any part in such fun. Steve Harley actually shakes his head on camera.

1985: Hosting their own private worst hedge-like haircut competition as they do so, King exude, none more so than Paul and his arm action for every bar. Phil Collins in a huge towelling suit looks a little lost on his own, something Total Contrast have thought about before deciding to make themselves out as a vocal and occasionally plucked bass duo.

1991: Sophie Lawrence was the latest to come off the soap roundel and into pop, having decided to take the Kylie route of three years ago only with even less enthusiastic dancing along. PM Dawn's dancers meanwhile fly in the face of fashions and never all act out the same thing. If you put their dresses together does a picture emerge?

1997: That's how to do it if you're a self-conscious rock band like The Wildhearts, turn everything up to distorted volume. The front row, of course, still attempt to dance wholeheartedly. That one bloke especially. You'll see which one.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

14th August

1980: Only the second week of the DJ plus music star experiment and already it's hit a roadblock. That is, they booked "the McVicar himself" Roger Daltrey, and he was in a right mood. Not just because of his claimed reason that he only came to see the Clash - injoke? Surely their famous refusal to go on Pops was common industry knowledge, and it's not like he wouldn't have been briefed on who had turned up - he just seems to be like that anyway for the whole show. Most notoriously there's his intro to The Village People, where he perhaps gives the answer Tommy Vance wasn't expecting to his question and then lets all diplomacy fly out of the window. As for the music, Ultravox replaced John Foxx with "a very, very clever man from Scotland", his pencil tache and his undone tie, while Billy Currie practices his jiving from the waist in one jacknifing movement. Mike Berry is hearty, a debuting Grace Jones haughty, suited, fag going. If you thought Roger was hesitant then, and I don't know given that why Tommy looks to him for help at the end, that's noting compared to the aside glances and speech rhythm three point terms as he welcomes Sue Wilkinson. Mind you, given the song you can understand his anticipatory nerves. His Legs & Co intro... well, you can probably guess how well that goes. It's ELO, and they're standing around a world in costumes from around the world. That's right, it's Don't Bring Me Down.

1986: Lots of heroic air punching among It Bites members. Phil Fearon camp drills his backing singers well, though surely they'd stand out less in a bigger production.

1998: Nobody except Jayne Middlemiss here has ever called Sash! "weird" or "spooky", especially as he's right there. Tina Cousins has a very rigid mike technique. Solid Harmonie comfortably filled the own brand All Saints role nobody yet knew we needed.

Monday, 13 August 2012

13th August

1981: Soft Cell pop by with their huge hit to be, and through this blog we can maybe watch the development of Marc Almond as frontman. He takes his time to get into the bending and air punching, but once he's comfortably into the track you can't keep him still at all. Slightly convolutedly, number one Shakin' Stevens' performance with a tunic'd Legs & Co was repeated on the Christmas show unedited, meaning it looks slightly odd in this context and they don't get rid of Simon Bates in the background. Luckily, that means we get to see him clapping like an angry loon while bearing a face that resembles that of a man suffering bad constipation. The girls' proper outlet this week was Startrax Club Disco. Lots of upskirt shot potential here, and if not accidental then Lulu - and it is her, she did go a little stereotypically big haired at that time - is on course to provide it through her chair and Pierrot hat routine to Tragedy. Something tells me Gill's dancing partner from about 2:00 isn't quite as randomly chosen as her actions suggest.

1992: The Hi-NRG years of Take That seems to have been airbrushed out of their history, and watching Gary try to keep up with the rest of the group it's no wonder. No sign of that promised exclusive Annie Lennox online, oddly.

2004: If you're going to show yourself off, you may as well go the whole hog. Hence LL Cool J being driven into the back of the studio, in clear contravention of the Highway Code and various safety regulations. It's a wonder nobody tried to make a citizen's arrest. That's also very close to the road without visible guarding during a TV recording. It's a H&S nightmare. Of course the shirt comes off.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

12th August

1965: Unless it's been recorded after the fact like the oft-seen first show link - and I wouldn't put it past the BBC - these seem to be the oldest retained original links, so we can see how Jimmy makes a play of putting on a record, then the cameras pan across to the performer who openly mimes it. "He's bought himself a new cardigan" Jimmy enthuses of Jonathan King before conducting an invisible orchestra, at least two people at the front preferring to watch him go. With all the nasty business since you forget how King managed to make himself a well known figure for a good couple of decades back there on little more than pluck and self-confidence, starting here with his seated among very mid-60s set design. No covering for pre-recorded performances either as Jimmy carefully denotes The Byrds' name. What is he holding, though? Also having flown back early, Sonny & Cher are enjoying themselves. A classic performance, shame the bloke standing at the back right between them isn't paying attention. So much for that keen popularity Savile alluded to. Should you be a completist of part-wiped shows, here's thirty seconds of The Shadows.

1976: From an otherwise wiped show, Guys'n'Dolls take two by two to the wedding cake tiered stage/Noddy Holder hat design background of 1976 Yes It's Number One fame.

1982: Now this is a show of all the fashions. Imagine if, as seems likely, you'd never experienced Toto Coleo before this night. Never mind the fashions, the pop stylings seem completely alien to any audience other than a contemporary Adam & The Ants world. Judging by his intro to Yazoo - frankly pedestrian in comparison, despite the electronic zip and Vince's hair - Peel has been taking advice from them, though it turns out only temporarily. One of ver Coelo, Anita Mahadervan, had been in Legs & Co for their last year and then Zoo for a bit. With that sort of thing storming the charts Haysi Fantayzee's unisex Dickensian urchin look and tribal shouting starts to make the slightest iota of sense. Not the most subtle of routines you'll ever see and one feels for third member Paul Caplin, sitting at the back trying to look inconspicuous until his melodica moment comes. A comparative oasis of sanity arrives with the luxuriousness of The Associates. And then at 1:50 Alan Rankine gives Billy Mackenzie the neck of his guitar. It's made out of chocolate - see the closeup at 1:28, its only other appearance. Rankine then feeds the body to the crowd before grabbing his spare. Would you willingly take a lump of chocolate cradled by a masculine gentleman for several minutes under hot studio lights? Meanwhile, also all dressed up with somewhere to go, Wavelength bring the aura of 10cc in an East German speakeasy to the stage - a double arm round the shoulder at the end! Where's the books about that being a great transgressive pop moment? In a triumph of literalism Sheena Easton's Machinery is backed by a design featuring some large cogs, while Fun Boy Three revert to Specials type, Terry imperceptible, Lynval and Neville hyperactive. Alice In Wonderland on trombone solo. Zoo are the name above the door for the Kool & The Gang routine but it's the Moroccan tumblers who get the whoops with every move.

1993: Trad boy band antics from Bad Boys Inc, right down to the pelvic thrusts in motion to mark some synth power chords. Yazz & Aswad can't just have gravitated towards each other through rhyme but they only seem vaguely aware of the other's presence.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

11th August

1977: Seeing punk coming, Eddie & The Hot Rods briefly relaunched themselves as The Rods, Barrie Masters occasionally remembering to rhyme between the gurns and crotch grabs. He's not quite as bad at miming as the leader of the JALN Band, who by the end can't work out which is the lead vocal line and which the backing..

1983: David Grant finds his own way of making it to the stage but the trouble comes when in an enclosed space he fancies himself as a mover. When you get that level of appreciation for a bandy legged lifting routine it's no wonder he fancied more. Were Level 42 told there'd be a girl dancing at the front of their stage? Mark's looks suggest not. She wouldn't have gone near The Creatures, which is why the Dragnet spy-themed wing of Zoo keep their distance. Depeche Mode's Martin Gore, having not come up with a way to counteract Alan Wilder's sudden clarinet skill, takes not bothering with costume to a logical end.

1988: As you'll see from the intro to the peppy Tanita Tikaram, in the midst of their nationally famous (they were slower days) double act, Liz Kershaw made her one and only TOTP appearance alongside Bruno Brookes. Was it the hesitancy or the hat that made sure she was never invited back? Brother Beyond were a band but the director doesn't appear to have noticed anyone other than the screamworthy Nathan Moore. After the previous week's indignity All About Eve were invited back for another go and it all went disappointingly well.

Friday, 10 August 2012

10th August

1978: When TOTP found out there was a single called Top Of The Pops being released... well, they couldn't have done anything else. Bring in The Rezillos, Fay Fife on space-loon top form. More professionally, Hi-Tension's adding to the dance of the world store British Hustle. Presumably all of those people do something. Less professionally, Jilted John. Fine work from Graham Fellowes as adolescent punk, arguably finer from Bernard Kelly as interpretative Gordon. Obviously Legs & Co are lesser movers but they turned up regardless, chiefly Gill, to interpret, awkwardly, Bob Dylan.

1989: Like arena hair metallers without the arena, Dogs D'Amour were surely let down by the bassist's non-uniform choice of hat. Liza Minelli may look a little awkward but her mid-song sashaying is second to none.

1994: Brand New Heavies refer to an oasis, so the set designers give them two big trees. Don't think they quite understood.

1995: With no costumed saxophonists or anyone to play off, apart from a trombonist keeping a respectful distance, Suggs tries manfully, trapped in his square of footlights, but runs out of textbook stances early on.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

9th August

1979: There's quite a few unlikely Pops bands in this period, perhaps few less likely in hitmaking terms than Flying Lizards, the avant-garde collective for whom frantic cuts and visual blurring was apparently the only way to reflect the off-kilteredness. Deborah Evans-Stickland is as haughty as the role demands. Not that much different from Showaddywaddy, really. Mick Talbot would eventually make plenty of Pops appearances once co-opted into the Style Council, but for now he's co-vocalist and keyboardist with mod revivalists The Merton Parkas. Superimposed on a spinning tyre? It's all the BBC could have done. Also sharp suited and co-opted into new wave, Joe Jackson is given picture-in-picture effects that merely make him look like he's standing on a slope. This clip from its repeat is worth it for a fine example of a specialised artifically lengthened Jimmy intro. But punk wasn't dead, Angelic Upstairs keen into taking it into more straightforwardly brutal areas. DLT, asphyxiating as he's talking a speciality, introduces Legs & Co giving Spyro Gira some as they play an advanced game of hide and seek, all with their names on their fronts in case they get lost.

1984: Tracey Ullman's TOTP appearances always had to be just so, the right props and two rigidly choreographed dancers every time. They should all have jumped onto that oversized deckchair at the end. Peel gets away with some spectacular double entrende introducing Windjammer, carefully choreographed in time themselves, while Hazell Dean picks up Ullman's baton and takes it back to Kelly Marie, bouncy disco and two men in headbands and boiler suits. No such fripperies for Blancmange. The Indian motif we've seen in their last few performances continues, and Neil Arthur's sporting a bindi just to emphasise it. What a splendid moustache the trumpet player boasts, which makes up for his fifteen second long appearance. Frankie Goes To Hollywood made seven seperate appearances on TOTP for Two Tribes, and it's been an experience of sorts finding and watching them all to work out which show they correspond with. This one is the best, though, and perhaps one of the great forgotten TOTP performances, starting with closed captioned Patrick Allen and Holly demonstrating his opinion of the Sun (with front page lead 'STREET STAR VERA F'... FAINTS? FLEES? FIRED? FLOODED OUT?), not that that stopped the band contributing to the Sun-backed Ferry Aid record. On top of that there's the flags, the loudspeakers, the cane, the white suits and Holly going walkabout right through the audience, in doing so exposing how few of them there are on the floor. Listen to the volume of reaction it gets.

1990: SPOILER on this one, as it comes from a repeat showing. Bombalurina, Timmy Mallett's Eurodance cover of Brian Hyland's 1960 hit in only the way that suggests. One of the dancers went on to marry Gary Barlow.

1996: "Some of Britain's greatest bands" are involved in Me Me Me, assures Peter Andre, but they presumably didn't turn up so here's Alex James, the drummer from Elastica (miles in the background) and Stephen Duffy with a song that took Britpop far over the music hall edge. This isn't on that box set. Suede are worth watching to see Neil Codling in action, having added shades to his unperturbed persona, one hand on the keyboard, the other in his pocket.

2001: So pop star presenters didn't go out of Pops fashion around 1997 after all. Depeche Mode are reserved by their standards, but surely there can be few less required dual bass drum setups.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

8th August

1974: As with 1980 yesterday, this was the first show back after a long strike, seven weeks off as the culmination of a variety of strike action over the year. Leave a comment if you do. There is a kind of upheaval here too, as this was the first show to start with the rundown instead of that quite nightmare fuel-esque title sequence, something that remained until... the first show after the 1980 strike. Look lively, Charles. And what are Mud doing in their shot? For all Les' becaped glory when he actually gets going, surely the best bit is just before the first chorus when the marauding cameraman nearly runs several fans of The Rubettes over. Can't help thinking my running those songs together shows the difference between types of glam, despite the latter featuring two types of strap mounted keyboards. It must have been an emotional day for them as their original studio singer Paul da Vinci, still working that falsetto for all he's worth. "A spectacle of colour like you wouldn't believe" is a little strong in describing The Glitter Band but those sequined outfits are quite the statement of the times, as in its own way is the overuse of CSO. A big brassy vocal duo like Sweet Dreams seem far out of pop in this company, but watch that audience jive.

1985: Cat In The Hat style was clearly the rage at the time, evidenced by Amazulu. Meanwhile on guitar, the Laura Ashley Barney Rubble range. Despite a brave effort to silence Richard Skinner he still comes back in time to introduce us to Princess, her three hairstyles and her optimistic earrings. Go West insist on their backing musicians wearing the same suits and then break ranks themselves, and not even in the same colours. Know your place, sessioneers.

1991: Live scratching! There's something to fill any living drum. The Shamen also have Mr C in a particularly upbeat mood. From acid to acid jazz, evidently you couldn't be in the genre alongside Young Disciples without a spare part on lightly tapped bongo drums. And then there's Blur, fronted by a big cock.

1997: Peter Andre and dancers in virginal white far too baggy suits, the real moment coming right at the end when someone dressed almost exactly the same way storms the stage to Andre's evident surprise. There's something that doesn't work about North & South, not just the two keyboardists lineup but that this is a song referencing Tarantino aimed at kids. Lots of arms out forward from the front row. Texas took their inspiration from Schindler's List.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

7th August

1980: A very important show, this. The first show back after the Musicians' Union forced TOTP off the air for nine weeks, it was the beginning of a run of co-hosted programmes, the first to be produced by Michael Hurll who would eventually overhaul the whole thing in his seven year run, and perhaps most of all the disbandment of the TOTP orchestra and the necessity to re-record the song before anyone would be let across the TV threshold. As you can see from the rundown clips, which also pinpoint the moment Elton John realised introducing the show in a Norfolk accent was a bad idea, Peter Powell had to fill in the chart gaps with the aid of an ass-shaking Legs & Co. The first band on pointed up the brave new world of all-miming, the Piranhas drumming with fish and showcasing Bob Grover's penny whistle skills. The aforementioned Sheena Easton dresses like a Nolan, while the "Dougie and crew" Powell refers to are Bad Manners, Buster in his perpetual motion boiler suit. Roxy Music dress down, including a tie tucked into a shirt. This is the less notorious of Kelly Marie's appearances but that blue eyeshadow matched with that outfit is doing her no favours.

1986: Tastes change and pop angles move along, but it's worth recalling there was a great swathe of the 80s when you could not get away from Lulu performing Shout on family television, re-released or not. Status Quo do the same performance, in the same jackets and jeans, they did for about a decade and a half straight. Representing the modern age, Sinitta finds the most lurid of matching yellows.

Monday, 6 August 2012

6th August

1970: More of Pan's People just out of the womb, Stevie Wonder given an inappropriate park/farmland backdrop.

1981: They very rarely slept when Tenpole Tudor were about. After a very odd start where the floor seems to be miked up above the playback level, Ed Tudor-Pole settles back into his usual laid back demeanour. See how he gently and carefully picks up the proffered violin, then once finished with chucks it across the stage. From Eddie prancing to Phil talking, The Human League perhaps one of the last bands whose frontman you'd imagine would go the expensive jacket over bare chest route. After some typically cryptic spiel from Jimmy about Cheggers, Legs & Co have Lobo, no stage but a green screened studio and some appropriate props.

1987: "Not only singing live but also playing live, it's New Order!" enthuses Gary Davies and a nation heads for the hills. They never could program that drum machine when in a TV studio. Sinitta's cap doesn't have much of a head part, not that she'd care once she'd found a dress short enough to show off her stocking tops. Meanwhile Spagna merely ransacked the Space 1999 wardrobe.

2004: Post-Avril everyone wanted to make out they were a rock chick, even Jennifer Ellison. Actual rock chicks swivelled their eyes endlessly. Although both Tim Kash and Reggie Yates try to avoid actually naming them, Embrace clearly impress the audience enough to start mass arm waving going right from the off.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

5th August

1976: The first mention of punk in 1976, and of all bands it's from Slik. It's 'punk' in the Jimmy Cagney sense, but whatever. Midge is neat with a flick-comb. Having seen David Dundas bring Hot Gossip with him last time Ruby Flipper waste no time in restating their pre-eminent position, though TOTP would do otherwise for them before long. Also back for lively seconds, the pimp fashions and overpercussioned Johnny Wakelin. Watch the bassist's hat get tangled in his lustrous hair during the weird guitar solo. In comparison Twiggy in her trouser suit seems lost among the keys.

1982: Given their established record of making something out of nothing, Madness doing a song about a car could only have led to the deployment of a mass number of props. The real star placing, though, goes to the bloke in the braces at the back at 1:11. You'll see him. Junior and his bottle glasses gets the Zoo display team at full capacity, something Kid Creole & The Coconuts see off with some very reflective dresses, some frightening makeup and a big megaphone.

1993: Should Mark Franklin be promoting gambling on a BBC family show? He lost the bet, by the way. Michelle Gayle's stage decoration is surely far too elaborate. Talk about trust - not only UB40 by satellite, but they then get Ali Campbell to introduce their former studio engineer Bitty McLean, with about as much comfort as you'd imagine.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

4th August

1983: Wham! go all out for the summer angle - swimsuits, towels, tinsel trees, George's yellow shorts and bare chest behind open Hawaiian shirt (and sudden deviations into multi-instrumentalism, and appalling miming), Pepsi and Shirlie's big hats, Tracey Ullman at 1:49 alongside a man who must have been doing that with shakers for hours waiting for his shot, the late appearance of a shower... and yet surely all comprehensively outdone in advance by John Peel without his saying a word. While Wham! were living it up Kim Wilde was going sensual jazz, Tracie was playing around with men in cages and Bruce Foxton was going solo, grey suits all round. Also this week, though visual evidence escapes me, "Gary Byrd TOTP rap". What must that have been like?

1988: Kylie Minogue was too busy with Neighbours to come over and promote I Should Be So Lucky so this was her studio debut, the first of forty visits. For someone playing up her wholesomeness at the time there's a lot of hip thrusting and bending forward going on. Funky Worm are another of those dance acts who find themselves having to hire a horde of pretend instrument players, including two drummers, one of whom seems to be barely playing a step above Neanderthal. Janice was wriggling, apparently. Bringing the BPM down a bit, class in authenticity from All About Eve. Surely nothing can look awkward here.

1994: After the dance boom but before Britpop, this is the sort of 1994 playlist which shows UK pop in a crossroads bind. Maxx's boxing ring visual motif seems to bear little in common with the track, and despite their song's more evident connections to the sport's presentation they don't even lend it out to PJ & Duncan. Live vocals on the verses. Brave. Against such strength of street knowledge Level 42 and
Status Quo are pitched. Drummers in headbands, there's one thing the 90s saw off in time. And still Wet Wet Wet topped the pile, week ten now, and constructed a set pitched between hippy and gothic.

2000: Craig David finally finds someone willing to listen. If you look at the back wall the set designers have worked overtime on the little things most wouldn't notice.

Friday, 3 August 2012

3rd August

1978: How to simulate rain on a budget for Darts? Simple, direct a fan towards a shower curtain and film for projection. Meanwhile Den attempts to recreate loss of signal. The Real Thing also had a song which referenced rain in the title as a metaphor for lost love but no such frippery for them, even the clothing clash more toned down than usual. Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69 was hiding himself behind the drumkit while The Lurkers' guitarist kept the flame alive for leather jacket over bare chest.

1989: Even if Gun weren't providing a workshop in rock posing that clip would be worth it for the appalling quality of Jenny Powell's intro. Yes, Jenny, they're called Gun. It's in your script. One would hope she didn't have the same hesitation over Paul McCartney - Hohner violin bass, Linda on tambourine, the works. Less timeless subtlety about Transvision Vamp, Wendy James someone who believes you're never dressed without a great big crucifix. You could imagine Kylie Minogue was quietly making notes were she not swayed, not for the last time, by the power of gold lame.

1995: If the flashing of orange lights around Therapy? won't do the trick, a deadpan, part-rapping Pet Shop Boys job swap - Chris does actually do the vocal on this - should confuse the part-timers. Fine work on the French horn. As ever Black Grape see studious miming as someone else's business. Blur prepare to open up a whole world of pain for themselves. But not quite yet, as Take That went to number one in their newly downsized form, hiding it by being backed by just about everyone.

2001: Big names this week - REM, Destiny's Child - as well as Cosmic Rough Riders approximating the Byrds in big trousers - but it's Atomic Kitten atop and they've bought some braziers to celebrate. What's that mean at the very start?

Thursday, 2 August 2012

2nd August

1979: All sorts from all over the place this week, not least the TOTP debut of The Specials (actually still the Special AKA, but if Peter Powell can get it wrong...) All sorts of energy and restless movement feeding off the stage, so obviously the director spends most of the song on single tight focus on Terry Hall. How out of place they must have seemed alongside the inexplicable likes of BA Robertson and his disturbing air guitar take at the end. The Korgis were never destined for cutting edge pop either, not with the singer's choice of tie, far more middle-manager than new wave. See, The Gibson Brothers' purple Quality Street wrapper jumpsuits could only mean they were one type of band. After Den Hegarty jumped ship Darts were never quite the same again, with only Rita Ray's increasingly tight outfits providing entertainment above and beyond. Sparks obviously had that element in place from the start. Wisely, Legs & Co retreated to their summer beach house for Earth Wind & Fire moping.

1984: Black Lace. It had to happen sooner or later, though as yet there's nobody on the stage with them to help out with the moves. Similarly Mike Score of A Flock Of Seagulls had yet to quite work out his famous hairdo, though that one may have inspired Jon Bon Jovi. Trevor Walters - crazy name, crazy guy - goes for bomber jacket/string vest mixing.

1996: Hosted by Babylon Zoo's Jas Mann. Look, there he is, before Alisha's Attic. She never gets to use that recorder she's brandishing for the last minute. Manic Street Preachers' Nicky Wire isn't really committed to that bass part. The Spice Girls finally made it into the studio, and watch Mel C at the start, shorn of much else to do, directing vocal traffic.

2002: Easy to forget how big a deal S Club Juniors were, even if their dance routines stretched to no more complexity than jackets over the shoulder. Young people either went for that or, as Vanessa Carlton proved, were transfixed by the sight of a piano. As Shakira should have known, there was no more worrying sight then a pop star 'going serious' with an acoustic guitar player and a bongoist.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

1st August

1985: Five Star never missed a colour coding trick. Epatulettes and everything. In a jacket several sizes too big for him The Cure's Robert Smith takes his usual flexible approach to mimed performance.

1991: You kind of think Right Said Fred's prime-time debut (apart from Sky Star Search, of course) might have been a bit more eye-opening than this. Top work at the back, though. Something tells me Tracey Belland of Voice Of The Beehive isn't really playing that guitar. It has the name 'MORRISSEY' across the back, so presumably someone called Morrissey would want their property back once they'd finished with that tambourine. Deacon Blue meanwhile fill the stage with bonhomie.

1997: Debut host Mary Ann Hobbs is a keen biker so the intro wrote itself - that said, there's definitely a cut between the bike stopping and the helmet removal... After that blazing start Boyzone carefully line up their suits according to the national mood. Ronan has an in-ear monitor for some reason. One unnecessity step on from the unneccessary headset mike, surely. It's Morrissey again, this time as if his right arm has a mind of its own.

2003: Combat trousers, flat cap, bikini top. Yeah, that's Beyonce's gear sorted for the northern army town night out. Now, Alison Goldfrapp - she knows her millinery, and she can carry off a neat theremin solo too.