Sunday, 30 September 2012

30th September

1971: From TOTP2, so stand by for the world's worst John Peel impression. In what seems to be a distinctly audience-free recording appear Rod Stewart in a Nik Kershaw-anticipating snood, the Faces and auxiliary mandolinist, apparently Noel Gallagher's favourite TOTP performance. "I particularly remember it because Rod was wearing yellow tartan trousers" he says. Note Rod's all-red suit and refrain from comment. The story goes that neither Peel nor the football interlude were planned, the band, heavily into their cups, found the ball and were having a pickup game in the corridors against Slade when Peel passed. Ronnie Wood and Ronnie Lane making a run for it before being spotted

1976: Do you want to know where DLT has dipped his banana? No, didn't think so. In his shiny jacket and unitard Sherbet's singer has come as a resting contemporary wrestler. The fruit/herb routine is explained by DLT before Randy Edelman, "sure to be number one in a few short weeks" - Smithers, have Randy Newman killed - and given a less than subtle punchline before Demis Roussos. The uploader hasn't kept in the moment where on the cut back DLT is wearing a similar kaftan and actually does invite Demis to tuck in.

1982: "For a laugh, we told the producer to put a picture of Jocky Wilson up behind us. He said, "But Kevin, people will think we made a mistake." I told him only an idiot would think that. The morning after, the DJ Mike Read said: "Bloody Top of the Pops. How could they mix up one of the great soul singers with a Scottish darts player?"" Dexys Midnight Runners' Kevin Rowland confessing a decade ago about what even TOTP2's caption writer thinks was a cock-up, not that anyone listened as several Jocky obituaries had to be corrected. As you'll glean from the intro, the other big graphic at the back and the Blackburn/Peel double act being inaugurated and coming to an immediate climax, this show also marked Radio 1's fifteenth birthday, which the show marked by inviting a number of personnel onto the show to... well... put Adam Ant on and see what happened. Difficult to know where to start with this, though worth mentioning how in the intro Jimmy points to "some of my colleagues" across the studio, followed by a cut to the other stage on which Jimmy is standing front and centre, and also Juste and Peel staying well clear at 1:45. This, as well as a Mari Wilson intro, was the only ever TOTP appearance of both Annie Nightingale and Alexis Korner (though of course the latter's work with CCS was heard often enough) I can't imagine they were proud proud.

1993: With Nicky Wire on honeymoon, Manic Street Preachers made a surprise choice of replacement.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

29th September

1977: Rose Royce bring the disco, all sing backing vocals in turn and grin madly at each other. It looks for a bit like Gwen Dickey is singing into a rose, but she isn't. Would that Pepsi-pusher Peter Blake had had a similar idea instead of the stereotypical studded leather jacket and vintage Levi's stereotype. No, no, Greased Lightning came later. Stewpot calls Golden Earring "a sound with a difference" which is odd given it had already been a hit three years earlier. A drummer's Bruce Lee tracksuit with a difference, certainly.

1983: The Smooth Brothers never quite caught on in the popular imagination as much as The Rhythm Pals, that's all I'm saying. We all know TOTP in these days was meant to harbour a party atmosphere, but that's really little excuse for "the looniest record of the month" from Black Lace. Everyone joins in, of course, and we should all be thankful DLT appears on screen at no stage during the song. One can only imagine the looks on the collective faces of Siouxsie & The Banshees, this during the period Robert Smith was temping with them, demonstrating his usual zest and eagerness to mime guitar parts. Tracey Ullman's usual game visual style of looking a bit like from the 60s, only this time with glitter in her hair. This was a landmark week in Pops chronology, as this none more 1983 styled routine to Unique was Zoo's last stand, bringing Flick Colby's fifteen year association with the show to an end. Who's that right at the end next to Tommy? Is that Debbie McGee to DLT's left at the start?

1994: Fair to assume that 2 Unlimited really didn't need a full band setup, especially not a bassist, and it limits their interpretative options and leaves Ray making vague hand shapes between his vocals. You never saw East 17 pretending to be a real band like that, though you suspect anything would be a distraction in this situation, and the dry ice cascades don't count. Now, don't get confused here, this Kinks clip is not from the archive, they did perform it three times on the show in 1964 but obviously they're all long gone. Also, no audience reacted like that at the time and Ray would never have improvised like that. They'd just released a live album, which didn't chart. There's also a sense of "might as well" about Shane MacGowan & The Popes being joined by Johnny Depp on barely audible rhythm guitar. Shane's mike appears to be live and he's barely coping. Whigfield's at number one and she's still not joining in - in fact on a couple of occasions she seems to be trying to hide, perhaps from the bloke in a castoff Showaddywaddy drape - but those well placed mirrors remind her she can't escape from the actions she's provoked entirely.

2000: Odd show, this - Richard Blackwood did all his links from the BBC Futureworld exhibition in Portsmouth and a couple of performers, one being Melanie B outside in late September after dark in her bra, did their thing on a stage outside the exhibition hall without an audience, everyone else - a lively reception for Green Day, say - prerecorded in Elstree. Your licence fee at work.

Friday, 28 September 2012

28th September

1972: Apparently this is a rehearsal recording rather than from the live show of the Pan's People The O'Jays routine, which would explain why this bit of a wiped show has survived, the two blokes standing at the back right at the start and the general air of everyone concentrating on following each other and not quite up to tight speed on the routine. The 70s curtains for skirts are however from the finished article.

1978: Something seems very out of time while also in fashion terms entirely on cliche point seeing Lindisfarne this late in the day. The bassist flew in from 1900s Paris especially. Rose Royce's classic demanded a special method of shooting as an intro, but who'd have foreseen that wrapping the inside of a toilet roll with kitchen foil would work. Rare to see Chris Rea at the piano, rarer to see a man quite as underused as the man furthest stage right when he's not playing clarinet. Meanwhile someone at the front ignores everything in favour of frenzied waving. No time for that sort of thing among the mighty frugging to The Ramones. Now, we always talk about literalism in Flick Colby routines, but for Frankie Valli's Grease theme she's outdone herself on two simultaneous levels. Sadly Patti died of exposure to harmful chemicals three days later. (No she didn't.)

1995: Things you can't quite get your head around: someone - well, Chris Cowey in all likelihood - decided what TOTP and by extension family viewing really needed as a guide to the pop world was Steve Lamacq. Alright, Cast drummer, enough of the whole Keith Moonisms. If, like Shirley Manson of Garbage, you're not going to suit a feather boa at least make other use of it. And it's 1982 returning as TLC do their own medley, except with a consistent disco beat so not as good.

2001: Faithless build the largest percussion rig known to man while the BBC remind us who the song is named after. In a particularly luridly coloured top Ian Brown does that marching on the spot thing he always does even though they've cleared loads of space for him. Kylie Minogue fills the space with dancers making creative use of filters, the bits where they're not all working together being best as they look like nobody ever bothered to choreograph them.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

27th September

1973: Show number 499, and one with surely ill-timed but nevertheless great resonance for the programme's history as the classic circular TOTP logo makes its debut. A double denimed all round Status Quo kick off the show, as they were wont to do on later big TOTP occasions, but first a look at the title sequence, all gypsy glamour girl closeups and high rolling in a land of fruit machines, before a crash zoom to Noel's face brings us all back down to earth. Elvis never went anywhere without his personal Pierrot clown in those days. Noel's intro to The Strawbs is particularly unworkable even by his standards. Half of Manfred Mann's Earth Band are placed facing each other and it still works as television. Speaking of which... When is the ideal time to release a record about Dracula and assorted ghouls? That's right, September. Monster Mash actually fell out of the top 20 in Halloween week, which says a lot for how much weight timely releases actually have. All this is to explain why Bobby 'Boris' Pickett & The Crypt Kickers were on the show so early, and to introduce surely one of the most famous/notorious Pan's People routines there ever was. A guide to recognising your saints: Babs as bubblegum-favouring alien in her car paint silver bodywarmer, Dee Dee as a Hollywood mummy, Louise as the Ginger Rogers of vampirism with overdubbed tap, former ballet prodigy Cherry in a very cheap bat suit, Ruth, short straw in hand, as a magnificently blase King Kong. "Absolutely amazing" Noel accurately summarises. None of which was set to topple the Simon Park Orchestra, the speed of its ascent seemingly surprising Noel more than its very presence. I don't know whether Park is having to use the in-house orchestra but you'd imagine so, orangey brown being a very 1970s BBC in-house colour. See the percussionist working his set hours.

1979: "Heyyy, it's Frantique!" is about as concise and accurate an intro as you're going to get. The trio work through the many ways of wearing yellow but none seem entirely comfortable with either being on TV or the fact they seem to be singing faster than the ponderous orchestra dare go. Jimmy, wearing the natural clothing of reggae that is the sombrero, introduces Errol Dunkley, most of whose band are showing off a range of headwear but none with Dunkley's Alvin Stardust-like command of the microphone. And then Jimmy dons the full poncho and begins dancing to the Skids - look at the design of the trousers too. Watch Stuart Adamson gamely attempt to suppress the giggles, and this a man who's already seen his frontman turn up in his Star Trek pyjamas and Princess Di hair. That's not actually one of the Stray Cats on drums, it's future Blitz Kid and Visage backroom Rusty Egan, and if you look quickly after his mini-solo around 2:30 watch him remove one of the extraneous sound-resistant drumskins. The Dooleys seem to have decided to dress as everything they could get hold of in the fancy dress shop, from nightclub singer to soldier to, erm, I think the drummer's come as Keith Chegwin. After all that softening up, no wonder John Du Cann scares this audience into stillness.

1984: Sade's sophisticated Martini image was perfectly functioned from the get-go, but nobody told her she'd left her driving gloves on.

1990: Anthea's up for it tonight, isn't she? All those people behind Monie Love and her oversized AFC Bournemouth shirt are presumably there for a reason, they might be dancers but they don't seem to be committing themselves fully to such a role. The Wedding Present's David Gedge is enjoying the freedom not having a mike at all is giving him. Rather too much, maybe, as the false ending threatens to become a plain ending. That's not actually how you play twin-necked guitar, by the way. Meanwhile, Status Quo play the classics with a haleness that suggests they think people still like them instead of just being instructed to clap.

1996: What to do with a song that sounds vaguely exotic? Why, break out some orientally dressed dancers, of course. Dina Carroll must have inwardly despaired. Strange they bother hiring a drummer but nothing for the backing vocals or other instruments. Who looks least convincing in The Power Station?

2002: David Bowie had become a more regular Pops visitor (though this was recorded in New York) in recent years. We can all see that cheat sheet stand though, David. Busted were even then somewhat less exalted company, but already you can tell Charlie doesn't want to be seen in the same way as the other two.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

26th September

1985: Depeche Mode are fooling nobody with those huge bits of percussion but Martin studies them with a professional percussionist's precision, while wearing a countess' collection of strings of pearls. Jennifer Rush at first seems to be recreating the Bowie Heroes video but once the backlighting is turned off it merely transpires she's a big haired belter in a variety of synthetic materials. Speaking of which, Bonnie Tyler has on her crowded stage a lost soul diva on backing vocals and a lost member of Black Lace on keyboards.

1991: Don't know who any of PJB Featuring Hannah And Her Sisters are/were, but they're proof you can't just throw dry ice at a problem and hope that gets you through. One more go at making rave music-making a televisual spectacle with Bizarre Inc - three levels of keyboards, a man in a hat, a gyrating girl in cycling shorts, lots of air punching.

1997: By now Graham can't even bring himself to look at us or the rest of Blur.

2003: Jamelia clearly does not need that many backing singers, especially with a crowd so pumped up already they're cheering at irregular intervals for no good reason and absolutely roar when she puts her arm behind her head. Maybe that's what her legs do to people. The description for this Louise clip refers to her launching "a raunchier image with short skirt and thigh high boots", because as you may recall she was the model of chasteness for many years before. The more interesting facet is her dancers, who are definitely throwing themselves into it a little too hard. Another random cheer. With Westlife they usually hardly ever stop but with a few non-number ones figuratively and even with a big gospel choir literally behind them they can't even get everyone to clap along with them.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

25th September

1980: Your hosts this week, the glorious combination of Mike Read and Russ Abbot, who surely even in his most stereotypical of sketches never quite came up with quite as big a Mexican hat as the singer with Black Slate has managed. Flick meanwhile pointed her charges at Queen, and with the visual effects and tellingly cut lace outfits it's one of their best attempts at resembling Hot Gossip yet.

1986: While clearly the show had expected more, only half of Amazulu seem to have turned up and at least one, the saxophonist, doesn't seem to be entirely across the song.

1998: Some combinations of expectant pop audience and performer never really gel. Watch for PJ Harvey's wry smile when her first line gets cheered, in between what seems to be shots from underneath of a stylophone.

2005: Damien Jr Gong Marley never goes anywhere without his personal flag waver. Makes a change from the usual hypeman. Robbie Williams takes that role on for himself, of course.

Monday, 24 September 2012

24th September

1981: Maybe it was just what we knew them better for, but Slade never seem convincing as a heavy rock act. For one thing, failing to see trends coming, Dave Hill has dressed down. For another, Noddy already looks far too old for that range of facial expressions. A large wicker basket was deposited in Depeche Mode's dressing room ten minutes before airtime and the members were invited to take their pick, evidently, Dave's bow tie and white tuxedo not matching at all with Martin's flat cap, braces and no shirt, let alone Vince's 'futuristic Hovis boy' style. At least the horn blast is convincing. Japan's David Sylvian, by contrast, keeps his hands mostly firmly buried in the pockets of his travelling salesman interview suit. No chance of that for Dave Stewart (not that one), who clearly forgot to bring the stand. Barbara Gaskin meanwhile models the amulet of destiny, careful to maintain close contact lest it break and envelop the world in evils.

1987: We get a rare glimpse at the start of the Jan Hammer clip of the hefty computer monitor all synth wizards, from Faltemeyer to Lowe, were required to have as part of their setup in the mid to late 80s. Even though the second keyboard passage is the same it shows a thick unbroken line where before was some pretence at notation. Why, it's as if it doesn't really mean anything. For accuracy Jan seems to have bought a lightpen too, not that he ever uses it. At least he's enjoying himself, as, in a more florid, fluid way, is Mick Jagger. This creative use of the entire studio, actually recorded two weeks earlier, is one of those TOTP performances that while not a classic song or a much repeated gem everyone who saw seems to remember, for good or ill. Repeated viewing reveals new details every time, from the gong Mick shimmies onstage in front of which as well as never used is miles away from the rest of the kit to the blonde gentleman seen on the right of the group shot at the end who appears to have just finished putting his all, and then some, into his mouthing along.

1992: There's something happening here, what it is is exactly clear. Suede's debut, and the blue touchpaper is lit by means of an enormous backdrop and Brett's skinny chest. Representing ambiguity of a previous age, Boy George makes coy use of the studio's spare drapes to distract from having had to dig out his hat from under a bale of hay. Mike Oldfield, who was never ambiguous in any way, is "at number four in the charts" according to Mark Franklin, just as the '1' caption appears (it had been top the previous week). Now that's an audience unsure how exactly to respond. Boyz II Men wisely keep their distance, as they have a college course to lecture straight afterwards.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

23rd September

1976: So why were Ruby Flipper not long for TOTP? One can speculate on the reasons, but it must be stated the decision had already been made by the time they were assigned Rick Dees And His Cast Of Idiots, which starts with an extreme close-up of Sue's derriere as if to apologise for what's about to happen. Floyd's doing well until the moment of transformation, it has to be said, after which you have to wonder how everyone's managing to keep a straight face. Except Cherry. Please do not pause the very last image of the clip, or it will haunt your dreams for ever more. For The Drifters dickie bows matched with yellow trousers is the last word in fashion.

1982: Shalamar's Jody Watley seems to stand out a bit as a spare part if she's not on lead vocals, given she wasn't a dancer and had normal hair. Still, she gives it a game go and resolves not to look querying at Howard Hewett's wet-look while receding hair and pencil tache. Before Dollar sacked off all the others who did things they tended to struggle to stand out and for space against their own backing band. They were kept sweet for the time being by being told they could join in at the end. If we're talking about image, though, things were about to be blown out of the water by the TV debut of Culture Club. Boy George is clearly a well conditioned man, but given they talked about Alison Moyet as a gender-bender in those days you can see where the confusion arose from. Just nobody mention Roy Hay has the better hat.

1993: Dancers for club hits would evolve their routines to include props in time, but for now Haddaway has to make do with women in paisley patterned loon pants and a visual effect nicked from a mobile disco. Take That did better at the moves, and they had vocals to simultaneously deal with and a shouty guest to make way to. Remember when girls in cages was a transgressive move by hair metal bands? Meanwhile The Wonder Stuff's Miles Hunt mocks the popular James T-shirt design of the time, which seems an acute thing to be targeting on prime-time family telly.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

22nd September

1977: The whole show, featuring a clearly besyruped Hank The Knife & The Jets, Holland's contribution to the rock and roll revival, The Stranglers having a few problems with the dry ice and deciding the only combatant weapon is a music paper, Legs & Co getting their disco trousers out and nearly other things too (ah, 1970s humour at the end), the show's first look at the almost co-ordinated Baccara and Stardust's jumpy Paul Whitehouse-as-Peter Frampton frontman and token gyspy girl with enviable maraca energy.

1983: Howard Jones' debut and of course nobody's watching him. Not behind the huge stack of synths, not when he comes out from behind them, not even with that jumper. Not when Jed's around with his literal mental chains. Soft Cell don't have any of those, but Marc does have a Rambo headband and lots of badges for his knockoff leather jacket. The Alarm have no truck with that synth prodding nonsense, not when there's cash to be outlaid on hairspray and time that can't be wasted on anything but backcombing. Their drummer works the 'John Cooper Clarke with a neckerchief' look instead. Culture Club at number one go for the dressing up in a big way, George as a Christmas cracker while his band signify they play tight end. Say nothing.

1988: Having kept their setup minimalist to this point, Pet Shop Boys bravely branch out. Backing singers! Lowe on keytar! Horns! Drums! Entirely useless acoustic guitarist! Chris looks a bit annoyed he's had to come literally straight from his package holiday to the studio. A remix brought Bill Withers to the show for the first time, belatedly, giving no indication he's ever heard this version before or has any idea who those two women are. Not the most convincing miming of long notes you'll see.

1994: The monographed dresses of Michelle Gayle's backing dancers suggests there's some thought been put into it all but Gayle herself appears to have no idea they're there. Unlike Naomi Campbell, whose infamous crack at a pop career a) isn't as bad as you thought and b) perhaps suffered from having too much thought put into it, what with the set dressing and the non-authentic costumes. Not that the set designer stopped there. Why, the gritty back street staging for Suede is indistinguishable from the real thing. Or a Masonic ceremony, one of the two. If you look carefully, especially on the first chorus, some of the front row have been issued with oversized white T-shirts bearing the song title. That's ill-conceived marketing. That leaves Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories having to play inside an extractor fan.

Friday, 21 September 2012

21st September

1978: We all know the jibes about who Brotherhood Of Man took after, but this style isn't really diffusing the situation, leopard print or not. Lee Sheriden seems a lot less keen on the moves than his colleagues. Or maybe he could see how that sort of thing looked against Buzzcocks and The Jam, the latter despite Paul's not so mod choice of jacket colour. Or maybe Sheriden was still annoyed after Graham Gouldman of 10cc borrowed his Afro comb and spare stage clothes. Meanwhile Floyd was busy stealing Legs & Co's thunder for their Sylvester interpretation, and after all the co-ordination effort with the clothes too. The girls' clothes, that is, Floyd seems to have been asked to bring along anything glittery he owns.

1989: The Wonder Stuff provoke an existential fashion question - Miles Hunt's hat or Rob 'The Bass Thing' Jones' hair?

1995: The latter two thirds of this one are online, part one/two featuring Smokie looking progressively less sure about the whole Chubby Brown thing, imperial phase Pulp, Mariah Carey on a soundstage on casual Friday and Erasure classing up the joint - the edit cuts this in half, so here's the whole thing. That piano needs tuning. Part two/three opens with Iron Maiden for the first time in 15 years led by new boy Blaze Bayley - Bruce Dickinson only ventured into Pops on his return - and note that while the strobe lighting and audience air punching remains the same Simon Mayo's intro is not how, say, Fearne would introduce them a decade later. Following them, Shaggy and appropriate grinders.

2001: What does Dido need a DJ for? Or a bongo player, though she's putting her all into it. The second highest rated comment on that clip, incidentally, is "one of my favourite songs. glad i can listen to it again despite living in an English surveylance society". Yes, signs of the infamous government thought police clampdown on broadcasting MOR pop singers remain all around.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

20th September

1973: Some fondly remembered Pan's People, Ike & Tina Turner, not involving church houses, gin houses, schoolhouses or outhouses but a foreshortened team doing lots of shaking in colourful sports bras and full length skirts.

1974: Before the clip's rediscovery twenty-nine years after the fact the stories regarding Robert Wyatt's appearance had become legendary, and not just because he seems to still have his duvet on. Wyatt was told by the producer (presumably Robin Nash) his wheelchair was unsuitable for family viewing ("it was genuinely the first time I had realised since the accident that I might be considered unsightly"), which led to his reputedly suggesting the whole band take the stage in similar chairs (some accounts still state this happened despite evidence), and then according to some accounts the BBC received a record number of complaints that stood until James Dean Bradfield got his balaclava on. Spot Pink Floyd's Nick Mason on drums and future Police-man (then of Curved Air) Andy Summers on bass.

1979: Why so hesitant, Mike Read? The Starjets' singer may be sporting a Ramones T-shirt but they're not getting more than three audience members worked up. That's more than Madness managed, and to cap it someone glued all but Suggs' feet to the floor. The Jags were into pointing and looking directly into camera wherever it went. We were still just getting to know Annie Lennox as leader of The Tourists, wielding some sort of cross ornament with never fulfilled malice. Electric Light Orchestra had the Legs & Co franchise in a routine based on... scaffolding? A badly constructed apartment complex?

1984: Audiences had loosened up considerably within five years and a change of producer, luckily. Bronski Beat surround Jimmy Somerville as he mimes the "kiss his lips" lyric as much as he can given thin air to work with. Sister Sledge are "wearing those skirts", apparently, though they don't appear to be anything special. Maybe they are in Steve's head, as well as the compulsion to wear a silly hat introducing Nik Kershaw. Snood and braces, a perfect combination. 'Bacofoil Captain Scarlet' was not Adam Ant's most successful costume theme.

1990: Someone jumps off a balcony as Twenty 4 Seven start. Good choice. Rarely will you see an outfit who don't so much as bother with looking like making music or engaging with the bulk of the record.

1996: As Tony Mortimer, not it's fair to say the most charismatic of televisual presences, eventually spits out before throwing to Belinda Carlisle it's the 1700th TOTP, the first, says Tony, being when he was "a very eager swimmer, and most of our fans weren't even born yet". Mortimer was born in 1970, so none of that really makes sense. Sheryl Crow wisely keeps her distance and most of herself hidden behind a big furry coat, but Phil Collins is there in the sort of yellow polo shirt he'd usually save for the hotel bar.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

19th September

1985: Peter Powell shows off his Red Box knowledge, before Red Box show off how many drummers they know. Remember, no sunglasses indoors once the beat starts. Midge Ure is not a tall man, but that's the longest coat surely ever to appear on the show this side of Jason Donovan's Joseph tenure.

1991: U-U-U-Utah Saints seem to be making some pretension to playing live rather than have people dancing round equipment. Then the 'singer' has to go and ruin it with his face pulling.

1997: Indie Kylie Minogue is more fondly remembered than bought at the time, but that one bloke at the back seems cockahoop. Not many bands took artistic leads from market stalls, but The Sundays ended up with the full Carmen Miranda behind them. Perhaps traumatised by being seen by their biggest audience in front of it, they've not been seen since. Mark Morrison's backdrop, like pretty much everything he recorded after a point, was entirely about himself, as he continued to try and find the moral high ground in sending an impersonator to do his community service.

2003: 'CRISIS' it says on Pink's hat in a font last seen on Mark Morrison's backdrop, and wardrobe crisis it is, in a dress only Lily Allen would ever consider worth a go in future. Maybe it's to distract attention from the bassist's bucket hat and golfing trousers. Lisa Scott-Lee sits back and lets everyone else do the work for most of the time, perhaps realising there's moments when you really can't tell which one she is. Who'd have thought Black Eyed Peas would rule the next few years from a starting position involving lurid orange trousers. Now, were I them I'd have brought on the street dancer far earlier, ie not when the credits are rolling and closing voiceover starting.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

18th September

1980: Simon Bates refers at the start to "a slightly new look", almost certainly related to "small problems here at the BBC". That'll be another strike, then, this time scene-shifters (the same day's Blue Peter came from an entirely empty studio), hence a completely undressed set, background ambient noise, obviously dubbed on applause and a playlist comprising repeats and videos. We do here get to examine Bates - "keep your eyes, ears, nose and throats open, and keep your Radio Times open as well" indeed - and all his friends in their natural environment. Who's this walking down the road? Why, it's Jonathan King (after Nick Straker Band), and he's brought the newly popular Rubik's Cube with him, though why King had to bring one back from New York given they were also big in London toy fairs isn't answered. Bates and King go on about "an irritating noise", proving it takes one to know one. Meanwhile, on her way to "the screens at your local Roxy" with Xanadu, as shown by the clip played in over the middle of a sentence, Olivia Newton-John. Clearly she isn't in that much of a rush as she returns later to discuss horses, after Lynda Carter ("I like this boy!") Can you tell they're struggling to fill out the 35 minutes?

1986: Braces, hats and yellow T-shirts were big with Timex Social Club, as well as two one-handed keyboardists. Mind you, you want satorial elegance? Cameo, Larry Blackmon in his codpieced, Points Of View-exercising finery

1998: Slightly confusing visual effect here with Pulp playing in front of a screen showing the video, meaning Jarvis is doing all his actions in front of himself doing much the same. Where do the dancers come from, some sort of concealed trap door? Meanwhile the audience participate in television's least efficient balloon release. Meanwhile, Claire from Steps has forgotten to get fully dressed again.

2005: Status Quo officially claim 110 TOTP appearances. I don't know if they're counting rundown mentions or something as the actual studio appearance tally is just 41, of which this is the last. The audience do seem notably less keen the less like Rockin' All Over The World it sounds. Mariah Carey demanded her personal door-openers arrived with her, so just for that the confetti cannon was delayed for as long as possible.

Monday, 17 September 2012

17th September

1981: The medley trend continued barely abated, even though Gidea Park were already reduced to Four Seasons reworks. Not sure which is more offputting, the singer's bared chest or the drummer's stetson. If Beggar & Co are anything to go by jazz-funk's development involved a lot of waving brass instruments about. The singer, as far as I can tell, never puts the clarinet reed to his lips once. It's still about as much convincing music making as Godley & Creme manage. (Unfortunately the "song with no words" that so enthralls Steve Wright isn't online in that version. It will, however, return, and later form part of TOTP history) At least Kevin Godley's playing out the sentiments, Sheena Easton seems half scared.

1987: You can tell Def Leppard weren't American, no American hard rock band would wear sterotypical American clothes. Classic metal posing on the dual guitar solo. Karel Fialka didn't bring the titular Matthew to the studio with him, but full credit to the set designer for reflecting the "sitting watching TV" lyrical location. Matthew Hayward, Fialka's stepson, is now 31, possibly works at Claridges Hotel and may well reflect on the irony that nearly everything he namechecks has been latterly remade.

1992: Very much the domestic music of 1992 on show here, including a cover. That we'll get to; first EMF invent woolly hat and shorts culture nearly two decades ahead of its time. Happy Mondays had a famously bad time of it around this time, and it shows - Shaun is distracted and has to get his lyric sheet out at one point, Bez is conspicuous by his absence and the best Rowetta can manage is bringing her stuffed monkey. Soul II Soul were operating on a downsized scale too, not even able to afford a full sized keyboard with stand. It's not until gone halfway that Jazzie B can bear to show his face. The cover jibe is a little overdone, Manic Street Preachers are hardly Undercover and they've brought their own flag. Those aren't real tattoos, by the way. The Shamen were at number one and they're already evidently a bit bored with it, hence this tranced out live version you can barely hear and the invitation of that bloke dancing in the middle. Femi Oke's very trusting in her intro, though Mr C's running with it.

1994: Not TOTP at all, but the first TOTP2, from the original form that lasted two and a half years, when Johnnie Walker did proper voiceovers between clips, Stuart Maconie wrote his script, the show started with clips from this episode, so there's a couple of gaps filled in, and the Recorded For Recall weeks were this one and this one.

1999: The tour rolls into Sheffield for a programme also notable for being the one and only TOTP hosting gig, as a late replacement, for Emma Ledden. Nobody seems to remember now but Ledden was the much hyped replacement for Zoe Ball when she and Jamie Theakston left Live & Kicking, but the show was soundly beaten by SM:TV and she and Steve Wilson were dropped after one series. She now runs a training company specialising in business presentation skills, should you be bothered. Back to Sheffield, and locals The All Seeing I had coincidentally got Phil Oakey onto their single and then for some reason done a live version different from the single, though that guitarist is building his part up in more ways than one. Safely on tape, Sixpence None The Richer's Leigh Nash can barely look at us.

2004: A good example of the problems with Andi Peters era TOTP here, as not only did they give Minnie Driver's musical career space but made her a little introductory film for no good purpose. Note that they leave Reggie's mike on a little too long at the start of that clip, and then see his idea of introducing Marilyn Manson. Yes. Flames. Very nice.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

16th September

1982: The best bit of Mari Wilson's performance is at 0:29 when host Simon Bates for some reason runs across the edge of the stage on camera, highly visible in his crimson jacket, apologising to someone as he goes. Imagine the training that went into being a Wilsation and having to remain both in choreographed order and entirely straight faced. Electropop contenders Talk Talk, one of the rare bands who became bigger the less obvious their music became, attempt to hide behind shaded lighting and dry ice. Anything straight on and they're virtually performing in silhouette.

1993: Stand aside, Motorhead coming through. Cameras everywhere, the odd explosion, what appears to be a lyrical change to "I don't want to live in Elstree". Oddly, the same visual effects weren't employed for a debuting Radiohead, though Johnny does nearly forget the lead into the second chorus. Hard to remember that Thom used to wear that haircut deliberately.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

15th September

1977: Dr Feelgood's Lee Brilleaux has bought himself a new jacket for their second appearance and it may not fit entirely well. If his stance is one of static menace, Generation X's Billy Idol is all over the place. No sneering yet but there is some air guitar and headbanging. Neither of the above comes from Danny Mirror's Elvis tribute and red velvet shirt.

1983: Janice and Jimmy - the original odd couple. Seems a stylistic shift to go from the frenzy of the intro pace to the comparatively laidback Kajagoogoo, and then you see the hitherto unthought extreme Limahl had taken his hair to. Even the dancers seem to be taking the piss. The Truth were supposed to be the soul band who'd fill in the Weller-shaped gap. Not in that jumper they weren't.

1988: Where did Bros' Matt Goss get that mike from, a Duplo playset? The point where Matt moves behind his brother so they can be the only people in the spotlight may have been a subtle clue to Craig vis a vis his future. There was once a time when people didn't sing back in bulk to The Proclaimers' walking-based ideas. Nobody beats a tambourine like Craig Reid. Advertising had put The Hollies at number one. Who among us believes the guitarist would have been born when it was first a hit?

1994: They never used to warn us when genres made their show debut, but Mayo makes room to note M-Beat featuring General Levy is the "first jungle on Top Of The Pops ever". Live vocals too, which is ambitious given that much movement. None of which could get in the way of Whigfield's behemoth, as the set delineates. Note her resolute refusal to join in with any part of the dance. Don't know what the... thing we see at 1:56 is.

2000: Richard Blackwood's serious successful (up to a point) musical career now seems like something someone made up, and judging by his miming and the long bits other people do that may well have been the case.

Friday, 14 September 2012

14th September

1972: T-Rex in their pomp. Marc Bolan, mystical pixie of pop, and occasional dipper into the slightly damaged section of the charity shop clothing bin. That can be the only reason for that top.

1978: Jilted John again! The act evidently never gets old. If anyone can work out what's on the textual badge, do tell. How far that seems from Motorhead's restrained gargling sump oil run through Louie Louie. Legs & Co being given a song by Exile that alludes to kissing sorts out the backdrop and close-ups, but it does seem a little like the black catsuits only came in when the glittery dresses were deemed the wrong shape.

1989: "Sydney Youngblood, yes!" Sydney can't quite decide how much to commit himself to the dancing but he really doesn't have to try, the little mike bump at 2:26 sending the girls wild by itself.

1995: Robbie Williams presenting with the restraint, tact and evenness you'd expect, especially as he'd only left Take That in dudgeon a few weeks earlier. Capella seem overmanned with dancers, via satellite Mariah Carey has all the space she needs as long as she keeps in front of an enormous IMAX screen and Simply Red's Mick Hucknall's style hubris reaches new boundaries. Leather *and* dreadlocks. All bases covered.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

13th September

1984: Bruno Brookes' debut, and he immediately suffers from a surfeit of DLT business. Once that's over, with audible relief, OMD have given Andy full licence to do that thing he called dancing, but it's the chap front row wearing a cardboard helmet who attracts greater curiosity attention. Bruno gets to assert his music fan credentials, much to the lack of interest from those around him, in introducing Aztec Camera, but again it's someone else taking the attention with their gear, namely the Zoo dancer with what looks like a TOTP/Blake's 7 crossover top. What Depeche Mode are wearing isn't immediately obvious due to all the strobe lighting and the massive bongo, but eventually we see Dave Gahan modelling a nice crop top.

1990: Did Londonbeat really need a gong? Even though he wasn't an official member the drummer's still more fascinating for his playing style and his flip-top shades. No such outlet for Bass-O-Matic, who've brought a pad kit which makes it look like they're playing a synth with drumsticks.

2002: The 2000th TOTP, and apparently at some point it had been decided only Status Quo had the necessary expertise to open a special show - this also ended the 25th anniversary show - they also on the occasion of their six quadrillionth studio appearance or whatever they were claiming it was. "Everybody sing it!" says Francis and leaves Rick to do all the singing, perhaps to make up for how bad his own voice is. Contemporary rock'n'roll thrills, feedback, distortion and inaccuracy inclusive, from the White Stripes.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

12th September

1985: A show preserved in two thirds whole, though you're not missing anything of real worth. Part one has a really awkward intro, Amii Stewart, Huey Lewis and the News in BBC music's eighties summer bolt-hole Montreaux and Maria Vidal in purple gloves; part two, alongside the Breakers, has an infamous Marillion performance where Fish, having lost his voice, projected through cue cards. But wouldn't he have been miming anyway? Consistency, folks!

1997: They tried Mark Lamarr as a regular host for a while. It was quite jarring. Cast are so acoustically catatonic even the girls clapping along at the front are breaking off for conversations. Maybe a kaftan like Finley Quaye's would have helped.

2003: If Edith Bowman sounds unconvincing introducing Iron Maiden in front of their own people, be thankful it wasn't Fearne. There's a massive roar at 1:28, which if you look closely between the quick cuts seems to be one of the guitarists attempting to go into the audience and being pushed back.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

11th September

1980: "Music with a difference" this week, apparently, starting with the Skids, Richard Jobson this time in his cricket whites not sure whether to remain in straight-laced character or not. His band long decided otherwise. Even then in costuming terms he's well behind both the two girls with Flock Of Seagulls hair before Ian Dury & The Blockheads and the band themselves. The band self-introduction intro lent itself to doing something to camera. Wilko Johnson, inevitably, steals the show. Richard Skinner pops in to run through the week's pop news before Shakin’ Stevens takes advantage of time honoured camera-shot-in-camera-shot effects to launch his look for the next decade. Now, this is what Jimmy must have meant, Splodgenessabounds covering Two Little Boys with strict uncoordination. Who can say what guests Robin and Maurice Gibb would have made of it as they come on afterwards to be talked to, not the opposite, by Jim before the strictly colour-coded Split Enz. Legs & Co just had time to pop down the novelty shop and buy some plastic ten gallon stetsons to offset the costumes, if you can call them that, in which they danced to Elvis Presley. Some extraordinary face pulling to express the lyrics here.

1986: The Psychedelic Furs demonstrate a very 80s rock on TV trope, the guitarist and bassist gathering around the singer's mike to join in on the chorus.

1998: You wouldn't have thought much could compete with Courtney Love for playing to camera style when Hole are in town, but drummer Samantha Maloney seems intent on staring us down at a couple of points. Courtney makes sure she gets the last extended word, though. In contrast someone must have been concerned about All Saints' relative charisma (alright, more likely Melanie Blatt's sixth month of pregnancy, but surely the others didn't need to be restrained) as they get kept at the back behind some street dancers.

2005: Franz Ferdinand experimented with a band uniform for a little bit but found nothing gets a crowd going like Alex Kapranos standing on a bass drum. A good deal more displacement activity was carried out by Arcade Fire ("this is proof that the world is ending" - Win Butler on the prospect), a barnstorming live performance on a stage literally, it turns out, too small for everyone. Suggs seems unimpressed at the end, mind, carrying on with the next bit of autocue however much sense it makes.

Monday, 10 September 2012

10th September

1970: The groovy young things get down, to some extent, to Deep Purple. Ritchie Blackmore is giving the playback plenty. Ian Paice, less so. Have to stick in the end credits here, both for the dancing and the typography.

1981: "Hey hey hey!" Jimmy starts his peculiar form of dancing only to find Linx are orchestrating something entirely different, with notable success. The drummer, at a guess, is on loan. Even The Hollies are unwisely working an open shirted look as, with no shame whatsoever, they gamely plugged a disco medley of their own hits. Alvin Stardust returned to the show after six years without the gloves but with a guitar. Very odd things going on around Imagination, from the singer playing musical statues to a Legs & Co quorum - we have to assume it's them given we never see their faces properly - getting in the way to no discernible effect. Legs & Co had their own slot, treating Ottawan to a flapper dance surrounded by cowboys in shiny suits and Adidas leisurewear.

1987: This was the week of awry miming, whether that be the bouts of air bass of Level 42 or Wax's Andrew Gold forgetting how long the sax solo is. The audience, inevitably, react the same way to that as they do to W.A.S.P., apart from a couple of people jumping up and down getting in the camera's way. Simon Bates finds it hilarious.

1992: Nothing like making an initial impression. And East 17 are nothing like... oh, you know. Having strung up their washing, presumably for the urban feel, they leave Terry and his sun hat on keyboards and Tony Mortimer briefly dancing, such as it is. Space suit hoodies were never a big seller.

1999: The tour makes it to Nottingham but the star performer of the week doesn't, which somewhat gives the pre-recording game away. Despite her best efforts at facilitation, we never do see up Shania Twain's skirt.

2004: Duran Duran return "like a comfy moccasin", whatever that means, though it had "only" been nine years since some form of the band appeared. Simon was pretty much alone in keeping a dignified haircut, and he could still get cheers for standing on a pallet. The retro feel continued as The Pirates' guest rapper Naila Boss dressed like Neneh Cherry.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

9th September

1976: Some have made the case that Eddie & The Hotrods were the real first punk band on Pops, and they'd played with the nascent Sex Pistols earlier in the year, but they're merely heavily amped up rock'n'roll revivalists, bandwagon hoppers in future, with a bassist giving a shout to the influential US fanzine on his T-shirt. Someone who isn't a contender for any of the above, The Wurzels. Jimmy and his sailors introduce a band who've abandoned the banjo and sousaphone of yore in favour of waving sticks. I'm scared of the one on the left.

1982: Sophistication. You've either got it or you haven't. Despite her choice of colours Evelyn King had. Natasha... less so, and largely the clothes in her case, not to mention the make-up seeming to age her by years. A bloke in a brown suit at the back is going slightly spare for Gillan, shrouded in half-darkness in case easily scared children catch sight of the guitarist. With little help from Peter Powell, Zoo's task for the week is to play second fiddle to Wonder Dog, some in costume. Interesting background here - it was originally made by pioneering German synth designer Harry Thumann and was picked up by a small indie label, E&S Records, as a novelty. So keen were the label to try and get some success with it that one of its two founders volunteered to go on television in a Wonder Dog costume (no idea whether that's him or a short straw drawing member of Zoo in the performance). Sadly that A&R's career never recovered from such foolhardiness and his whereabouts since are unknown.

1993: With far more space than the BBC would ever allow them, James play things for all they're worth with the aid of someone who for all we know they might have bumped into next door who had four minutes spare. New Order live in the studio! Run for it! Not really, with ten years' experience they learnt how not to make an arse of it for once.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

8th September

1983: The dancers at the back are starting to encroach on Heaven 17's turf before long, but Glenn Gregory's hair, on loan from Billy Idol, sends them back. Bad dance covers weren't just an early 90s and mid 00s thing, Annabel Lamb giving the Doors unwarranted amounts of jazz-funk Rhodes piano and classic rock guitar solo. Paul Young has the mike stand in both hands like a Costcutter Mercury, but it's the frenzied arm movements and mild thrusting of the Fabulously Wealthy Tarts that stands out here before one of them really lets rip a solo that ends with some extraordinary faces and posture. A large close-up of her head appears over her actual head at one point, like a portent of a parallel universe Frank Sidebottom.

1988: Marc Almond and his flat-top chases down the camera.

1994: Uncomfortableness in action here, as Blondie's Atomic had become a hit off the back of an unwarranted modern dance remix for an advert and only Debbie was available to promote it. She's trying, but she's also drowning in that feather boa. Picking up the femme fatale baton that was once hers, Kylie Minogue briefly lets the soloing violinist have the spotlight, and if I was him I'd have picked a less dog coat-resembling coat. Somewhere between those two points, Cyndi Lauper was also retreading past glories in an alarming ensemble. Charismatic, though, and you can easily get that sort of thing wrong.

2000: Case in point, Lolly. Jamie doesn't seem keen, does he? The sometime Anna Kumble (and reputedly it was nearly Rachel Stevens, which would have put a radically different slant on the act) was a strange idea for a pop concoction, initially one for the pre-teens and here... who knows. That T-shirt's not helping matters either.

Friday, 7 September 2012

7th September

1978: Not much today, but what a collection. Hist! It's Arthur Mullard and Hylda Baker! From an album entitled Band On The Trot, two now long forgotten sitcom stars aim for novelty comedy and, well, miss. Unfortunately Baker was suffering from Alzheimer's, which puts a different slant on their general confusion and Mullard barely worked again.

1995: Jo Brand and Mark Lamarr hosted, so as if attempting to find their polar opposite, step forward Smokie featuring Roy Chubby Brown. Their thoughts are demonstrated right at the start. This was a cover of a cover, Dutch studio outfit Gompie having had a continental hit with the same reversioning earlier in the year.

2001: Difficult to find a non-smark link between those two and Louise, but here fate brings the pairs together with Mrs Redknapp's red beret. Why is her drummer wearing headphones? What click track is he working to?

Thursday, 6 September 2012

6th September

1979: What's the worst that can happen when you've got yourself looking spot on for your TOTP debut? For the first of Madness' 22 visits Suggs has found a lovely saxophone emblem brooch to complement his purple jacket. Within literally three seconds of it appearing in shot, it falls off. Lee Thompson meanwhile had just come from his job as a poker croupier. Coincidentally, Prince Buster himself appeared with Mint Royale on this day in 2002 recreating the sample on their Sexiest Man In Jamaica, but if you can find it online you're better than I. Much calmer, classy soul from The Crusaders, and some tremendous jazz drumming miming towards the end. Meanwhile The Bellamy Brothers and the desire to keep some prurience forced Legs & Co into the stuffed waltz. See at the end Patti dropping her partner just as she's picked out on camera. Cliff Richard at number one and with all the moves. Peter Powell watches, rapt. His T-shirt names something he hasn't been for many, many years.

1984: Last week we saw the Intercity cut off Bucks Fizz in what passed in August 1984 for their prime, so still rising up the chart they were invited back. In the interim the girls have come up with a little routine. More leather trousers from Sister Sledge, clearly not all equal after all. Level 42's Mark King got so into his frontman duties that he just neglected to mime bass normally by this stage, and he's developing a little shuffle to go with it. Alphaville by contrast only ever needed one hand apiece. Also worth a look, Bruno Brookes' introduction to the show, incorporating some classic Peel.

1990: Both Jakki Brambles using the words 'Elvis stylee' in introducing Adamski and his look locate this in time almost to the week. What's that girl in the white at the back actually doing? The Farm haven't brought Harry Cross, as Jakki seems to think. Slightly strangely, Caron Wheeler and her backing dancers are side by side and dressed the same as if she'd formed an extravagantly draped girl group the previous night.

1991: When people are cheering the sax solo as much as they cheer Sonia at the end something's not quite right. Similarly this onstage setup where everyone bar the drummer is standing in a line swaying almost in time. Similarly Zoe gives as much exposure to her guitarist, and doesn't he just know it. Lovely box work from the graphics people before Kylie Minogue, who's evolving well into SexKylie, by which is meant we can see both her belly button and her stocking top, a bit.

1996: Clock's latest hired hands seem a little too well dressed for a retread of November '63. That must be one cushy session guitarist job. More reflective, Rocket From The Crypt. Watch the camera collide with the bass head at 1:29.

2002: Quite difficult to camouflage it when one of a band, here Atomic Kitten, has to miss out. Natasha had given birth two weeks earlier, so a quick visit to the T-shirt printers and some hope about mimed harmony interpretation was in order.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

5th September

1974: This is one of those shows which is officially wiped but bits of which exist online in dubious circumstances and not exceptional quality. They knew how to stage a performance then, as you'll see in the double header of Paper Lace and 10cc, the former on mopeds, the latter full of crash zooms and retilting. Elton John has been placed miles away from his band, which can't be entirely helpful, but the kids are hanging off his every word metaphorically and piano lid actually.

1985: Not quite sure what Madness' "new whistles" are, especially as this is hardly one of their hellzapoppin' performances of old. There's a demonstration here of the difference between someone who has star quality and otherwise, as while Rebecca Storm is just a woman with a home perm while the similarly housewife star-resembling Bonnie Tyler is wearing all her necklaces at once and exudes confidence. Not quite as much as her overactive keyboard player, though.

1997: Quick, you're missing Breed All About It! In the meantime, Ocean Colour Scene are lost in the corner of an MC Escher work. All Saints here give us a prime example of something Pops played with for a while, getting girl groups to do double lipsync work for their day, though they've spoilt it by putting decks in front of Shaznay. As if to make up for it towards the end of Shaznay's first solo look at the screen, as Nicole seems to be joining in. Leave it to Ginuwine to work the crowd, in between the red curtains of sophistication. Maybe those were hiding Hanson's enormous backdrop, playing to an audience who think it's a particularly restrained rock gig.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

4th September

1975: There's that Bimbo Jet/Dangermouse logo again. As well as alarming photos of Mike Batt, of whom more shortly, and Jasper Carrott is 5000 Volts, three shirtless blokes, one of whom is still wearing his scarf - not as big a scarf as Dan McCafferty's, but a scarf nonetheless - and a not a little frightened woman. It's not the same woman as on the record, the face here Luan Peters but the voice on the record Tina Charles'. Wonder how that played with the Musician's Union. Jonathan King was already a cause celebre of sorts, "the one and only" in fact, but this is most worthy of observation for Jimmy either dancing or suffering a stroke. One hates to go from King to The Glitter Band, but one must point out the wallpaper chart designs that have made their way onto their suits. Not the most alarming of the week, though - after Jimmy has proved Hugh Dennis has been lying to you, Showaddywaddy's Buddy Gask teams the all-round yellow drapes with impractical shades. The actual style icon of '75 was evidently Peter Wyngarde, going on a hopelessly out of place Procul Harum's evidence. Back to Mike Batt, here played by Charlie Drake in an ill-fated guitar god stance. This was one of Babs' last stands, leaving two wiped weeks later to enjoy married life with Robert Powell, and they're still together.

1980: This show appears to have two celebrity co-hosts, as before Cliff Richard we see Hank Marvin risking his health, and after he's been on his short walk there's Kevin Keegan as uncomfortable as we'd see him until about 1996. "What's the matter with the clothes I'm wearing?" asks Billy Joel and Legs & Co are in the wrong place to answer.

1986: Another one retrieved in full, and a varied one too: part one alone has Jimmy Somerville going walkabout, meaning a consignment of dry ice just wasted to go with the expense on flags. That's followed by the notorious MC Miker G & Deejay Sven, who, it bears repeating, weren't a comedy act, we just didn't understand what hip hop was quite yet. Part two features maybe the smallest stage Bon Jovi have ever played and Richie Sambora playing up to camera for all he's worth. That's followed by a genuine breakthrough performance for house music in the UK, Farley Jackmaster Funk and moreover the mighty live vocal, presence and shoe inaccuracy of the late Daryl Pandy. The edit annoyingly cuts it in half, so here's the whole thing, and note how the audience never really respond until Pandy starts shouting at them. Part three has a glimpse of Frankie Goes To Hollywood in their hard leather and cycle short men phase. UK Gold's competition at the end is now closed.

1998: The lighting director evidently fancied a raise, using Mansun as his guinea pig.

2005: C&W covers band of brief repute Hayseed Dixie covering Green Day. This isn't your family show any more, or your chart pop show come to that. Pussycat Dolls were busy reinventing the modern girl group by wearing whatever they found in an off-cuts basket.

Monday, 3 September 2012

3rd September

1981: Dystopian futures are one thing, but John Foxx really didn't have to go as far as dancing like Andy McCluskey, especially since OMD themselves have given him a keyboard to prod with one hand so he has to remain planted to the spot. See that big white grand piano? Once Peter Powell has got too close to Miss Torquay that came back into use for The Teardrop Explodes. Anyone who's read Julian Cope's memoir Head On, or can just read this extract, will know it wasn't quite as straightforward as it looks for him. The Bucks Fizz performance he refers to in there is mostly notable for Jay's continued resistance to dressing as demurely as everyone else and the feather fall that appears to take place halfway through. Back to the start, note the bloke trying to get his hands literally on Lulu before Modern Romance and Geoff Deane's horrible pink suit. Dollar have come in cut-price regency and sailor outfits. And at the end, Powell pulls somebody's hat off with precision, exchanges awkward compliments with a Bogart-hatted Numan and then Funkapolitan get everyone to hold up big playing cards like pop's own Dolly Dealers. How many of those people were really required?

1987: See, even when in Squeeze Jools couldn't help but mug into camera. Not only do they not have a proper saxophone, they can't even find someone to pretend.

1992: Dangerous rave drugs brought into the home by The Shamen. Mr C doesn't look entirely convinced by the becostumed visualisation of the titular character - not Jerry Sadowitz as in the video, you can tell because it's still on YouTube. Is it just me or does the backing singer on the left look familiar? Now a duo Bananarama were just about hanging on, in a neat reversal getting the men to play around with feathers, though given how much we've seen of their early days seeing them in smart dresses doing choreographed movements looks all wrong. From much the same space comes Sonia, which is just posted here so you can admire the maybe slightly overplayed video description given it's a mocked SAW product doing a cover version.

1999: The tour popped into Brighton, but the rest of Moloko couldn't be arsed. Roisin makes up by dressing as a futuristic worm.

2004: The BBC once had so much money they could afford to maintain and run their own rooftop swimming pool, closed to the public and never seen on screen except when they couldn't find anywhere else to put JoJo. Breaking all the rules, it's clearly not been filmed in one take.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

2nd September

1982: It's sixty years of the BBC, and to commemorate Jimmy is wearing shorts and holding a cardboard trumpet. The latter is in honour of Modern Romance, for whom the set designers have gone to town. Not sure 1930s jazz bands had dancers in enormous head-dresses as a matter of course, though. It's even sillier for Shakatak, who are somewhere amid the people dressed as jellyfish, the fairground rides and the girls hanging on Savile's every word. The band, however, have just turned up as they are, which unless there's something we're not privy to can't be said of Captain Sensible, joined by grotesque masks and an unconvincing strongman. Who's that shouting over the intro? The whole setup gives away the pre-recorded nature of Simple Minds' performance, although Jim Kerr keeps up the fancy dress thread by coming as Gary Numan. Anyway, if you're having a rock and roll-based party you seemingly have to invite Showaddywaddy, who've abandoned instruments completely and seem to have adopted two bass singers. Not entirely sure Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five quite fit the feelgood party atmosphere, but a full complement of Zoo and whooping bystanders give it a go. Here's some other bits from the show, including the moment at the end where someone tries to set fire to Savile.

1993: I don't think Ray from 2 Unlimited is really playing that piano part, somehow.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

1st September

1977: Hudson-Ford, two former Strawbs, go disco-funk, one of them seemingly turning into Jeff Lynne in the interim. Demonstrating another way forward, a debuting Elvis Costello, full of sneer towards advancing cameras.

1983: There's a couple enjoying themselves and, to an extent, each other behind Modern Romance, while two other members of Zoo don macs and dance amid people who, frankly, don't care, about the band, them, the cameras watching them having their chats, anything. Even Michael J Mullins can't be bothered to stand up for it. Everyone seems to be more animated by the Stray Cats, whose Brian Setzer rocks that most outlaw of rockabilly outfits, mustard coloured trousers. John Peel in fancy dress gives away that that is a Rhythm Pals show, and it's unfortunate there's not more links around. Gary Numan is in fancy dress too, if fancy dress shops had 'post-apocalyptic biker' sections.

1988: The first show to be simulcast on Radio 1, a practice that lasted through to the end of August 1991. Accordingly the show doesn't feature a lot of visual pizzazz, and that includes the Cecil half of Womack & Womack's psychedelic Frank Spencer gear. Connisseurs of bad miming will find much to admire, especially the bit at 1:40. I know it's not an audio medium but, A-Ha, you've been given a mike each for a reason, and, Bomb The Bass's DJ, you could at least make it look like those records are playing at 2:27.

1994: Phil Daniels, through the offices of Blur, gets on TOTP, but it's Alex who seems to be most pleased to be there, while even Graham's playing to camera for possibly the first and last time at 1:53. Meanwhile are the BBC graphic designers really proud of that set? Fourteen weeks up for Wet Wet Wet and they've scarpered to LA and some highly realistic Greek ruins.