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Top of the Pops on BBC Four - Thread Four

Started by daf, June 06, 2022, 05:52:08 PM

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Channel 5 will be airing on Saturday 2nd July from 9pm -10:30pm Top Of The Pops: Secrets and Scandals (coming after episodes focusing on Eurovision and Are You Being Served), containing interviews with David Hamilton, Pete Murray, Cheryl Baker, Dee Dee Wilde, Arthur Brown, Tony Dortie and others.


Once again Smash Hits manages to leave out the actual title of the latest Shamen Single - "Shamen Vox" FFS!

I think this was Re:Evolution - which I remember Colin saying was mainly done on some ex-Radiophonic Workshop analogue gear they'd salvaged.

It was a terrible choice for a single though, so Tony's spot on there!

Norton Canes

Okay then, has to happen sooner or later. So let's do it... let's plunge once more into the murky depths of the blocked episodes and this time, confront the sick horror that is

Spoiler alert
Saint Etienne, aaah

Frankly it isn't difficult to see why this was pulled, it's a frightening reminder of the kind of behaviour that was tolerated in the past but unacceptable to modern eyes. Did they really think they could seduce our youth with their shiny suits, unkempt hair and

&tc. &tc.

Look, I know we took kind of took the piss out of Suede a bit when they did Metal Mickey a few months ago, because they hadn't really got their look down - the shirts were too modern, left open-fronted to look like lovely 70's blouses but not fooling anyone. The hair was freshly grown out and too long. And what was going on with those trousers? But with Suede it didn't really matter, the fact they'd got it wrong was part of the charm. Not only had St Etienne had longer to get it right - they were on their second album - but you got the impression the right look was way more intrinsic to their success. And that appearing on Top Of The Pops probably meant more to them, in a cultural sense, than it had to any other band at that time (and would do in future, to any other band except Pulp). And this was the best they could do. This was their best shot. Suits that didn't fit. Moves that didn't move. Poorly-scrawled hand slogans. Pyjamas. And a pervasive air of "that's fine". Do you think they looked over at East 17's turn a couple of minutes later and thought "Fuck, that's how you do it?" (do you think they watched Rolf Harris and thought "Fuck, that's charisma?") At about 2m45s on my restored copy of this show there's a guy in the front row of the audience who looks like he's desperate to check out (of the front row, I mean - not kill himself, though... yeah) and in the subsequent long shot there's some kind of altercation... hmm, on closer inspection perhaps it's just a floor manager clearing a path for the camera cable... look I'm not saying this is a bad performance per se (yes alright, obviously that's what I'm saying) but I mean what kind of quality, mood, character are they trying to convey here, exactly? Gallic shrug chic? The other week Vanessa Paradis did Be My Baby and her method of affecting a detached air was to look utterly fucked off with the entire world and it might not have injected her performance with much elan but holy shit it looked authentic. A bit of naked contempt in Sarah Cracknell's eyes would not have gone amiss.

And don't even get me started on that bass drum logo.

I wrote a parody of a Saint Etienne song once, it was hilarious, it savagely nailed everything that's bad about them, every cliché, every banality, every trite line of their vapid songs. Can't find it though. Shame, it was bloody great.


I can't stand Saint Etienne; they're exactly what they present themselves as, a music journalist's idea of "perfect pop".

Quote from: daf on June 19, 2022, 05:56:36 PMOnce again Smash Hits manages to leave out the actual title of the latest Shamen Single - "Shamen Vox" FFS!

I think this was Re:Evolution - which I remember Colin saying was mainly done on some ex-Radiophonic Workshop analogue gear they'd salvaged.

It was a terrible choice for a single though, so Tony's spot on there!

Extended monologue over a rather tinny beat?


I'm not a fan.


There's probably about five Saint Etienne singles I adore (all from the early days) but they're a hard band to love.  They just whiff of insincerity and smugness.

Norton Canes

Result, two replies concurring with my attack on the Etties (or whatever horrendous affectionate retraction they go under). Maybe their fans exist in an impermeable bubble of smugness similar to that in which the band themselves reside and are therefore immune to such censure.

Anyway, time to belatedly clear the detritus from last Friday's triple-barrelled Feb-fest and put it to bed (would have done it sooner but I'm still getting over two hours at the barrier at Nine Inch Nails' Monday night Manchester gig)

Gloworm and a plushy-upholstered Kym Mazelle serve up a couple of dance bangers that more than make up for in spectacle and audacity (why bother with the headdress? Mate, no-one's looking at the headdress) what they lack in actual tuneage. Despite the energy however the audience remain typically placid. What does it take to whip these impassive youths into a frenzy? Ah, hello Lenny. Turns out what the kids are craving is some revivalist 70's rock. Just listen to them! Some of them are even clapping! Since the camera never cuts to the front row I can only assume we weren't witness to scenes of debauched abandon.

Simon LeBon shows Sarah Cracknell how to do pyjamas properly with his phenomenal floral silks. East 17 pull out all the stops once more but as with their 'pool or deck' dilemma they again seem confused - if the set's hell-themed, why are there witches? Witches don't live in hell, they should be devils. Get your basics sorted, lads. I'm all for Why Can't I Wake Up With You with its background of almost imperceptible electronic chirrups. Understated and not an obvious lead single from their new album (especially since it had also been on their last one) but it's very much, I think, to the Everything Changes LP what I Just Can't Stop Loving You was to Michael Jackson's Bad.

There's a kind of macabre glory to Thunder performing under a photo of their frog overlord.

Finally - no, really - as with this coming Sunday, the headline act is Paul McCartney. Sadly he loses any vestigial respect I had for him after the agreeably understated Hope For Deliverance, reverting to this almost comfortingly overblown nonsense. I wonder if he'll do C'mon People on the main stage this weekend? Doubt it'll be as good as Pulp's version. Actually listening to it again just now, I really hope he closes his set with it instead of Hey Jude. Fuck you, Hey Jude fans! I mean you can't say the lyrics aren't relevant: "People are ready to forgive a few mistakes/But let's get started, form a party, don't you know how long it takes?" (on first listen I thought it went "let's get started, Paul McCartney", which would have been an arse-bendingly brilliant way to kick off the song). Hopefully he'll be able to reunite the entire audience from this performance, especially Ton Sur Ton girl. "And throw your handfuls of confetti... now!"

Right, enough. I'm off to watch the camera spinning around Mark Franklin on an endless loop

Norton Canes

Top bit of Pops spottery from the latest TV Cream mailout: one of McCartney's ardent throng is erstwhile TOTP 'cheerleader' (80's audience rouser and conspicuous podium performer) John 'no, I'm not Duncan Norvelle, do not on any account engage me in pursuit' Goldsmith, clearly reeling in a favour. 


Poor choice of a single from Tasmin Archer - this isn't going to get to number 1!




An eclectic chart mix you say?

We'll be the judge of that!






ridiculous affectation having your name all in lowercase!



The possibility of The Jesus Lizard performing live on TOTP, dangled tantalisingly before us



Also the programme should have had more Marxist Irish hip hop, whenever possible


Is this Britpop's arrival then?

I can't see Bryan Ferry without the phrase 'You will hev to wah flarred trizzers' immediately jumping into my head. Damn you, Colin B. Morton and Chuck Death!

I caught the infamous 2009 Rage on Breakfast Radio incident. TOTP played it safe.

Norton Canes



What have you done?

Brett, mate?

They had the stage all set up and everything

They even got the drapes in, just like the video

All you had to do was... I mean, you just had to do the song... it was all set up, and...


We were ready for you, mate

You were literally stood there, looking so sharp you could have cut your way out of the screen

Do the song. Just mime. Do a Nirvana thing, sing it weird. Get Bernard to sing


Norton Canes

Don't know about you but that is by far my favourite Right Said Fred song, easily the best thing they ever did. No pretention there, no attempt at sophistication, no desire to produce anything but a string of the very basest and most flimsy innuendo, and have the bare-faced cheek (oo-er!) to stick it out as a charity single. And if you can have an audience member surreptitiously poke your anus at the start of your Top Of The Pops performance then so much the better. I think it's a first ever anal probing for the show but I can't be sure, especially as so many of the Savile episodes have been junked. No coincidence, I'm sure you'll agree, that the moment they get the audience within touching distance of the stars, like it were in the old days, all sorts of impropriety kicks off. He seems to be negotiating with them for a second helping while the song gets under way. I'd love to know what prompted the flurry of panicked activity from the be-neckerchiefed floor assistant as 2:15, too - his desperate attempts to herd the crowd don't seem to be having much effect. Maybe they all wanted to finger Fred Fairbrass's fair arse, and he was cajoling them into position. 

The original fingerer is persistent. It gets to 2:28 and she's still after another go.

I like to think the production team tried to get Laurie, Cook, Anderson, Cribbins, Coogan, Durham et al into the studio for this, for no other reason that they wouldn't have to be razor-sharp on the video cutaways. Yeah, it seems like a pipe dream, but - Fat Les, that's all I'm saying. They're not so far away.

Norton Canes

I tell you what, that Tasmin Archer song is great but it's a real buzzkill. Me and Mrs Canes were getting some proper dutty moves on to Oh Carolina and suddenly it's all "Son of a bitch you broke my heart" and shit.

Plus, right, it's great that she's making such a hard-hitting song yes, obviously, but - is it wise to be coming out with all this pain and anguish and that when there's such an obviously evil person standing behind you? Yes, him, yes. Of course that's the one I mean. It's clearly him, just look at him. He might as well be stroking a white cat as playing an acoustic. Talk about plain sight.

Hands up anyone else who thought their telly had gone on the blink?

Norton Canes

Very much a case of triumph and tragedy for the set designers over the two episodes. First we've got the triumph of Annie Lennox's gothic diorama, resplendent with candles, flambeaux, creepy statues, crawling ivy and of course lashings of cascading dry ice. And the erstwhile Eurythmics chanteuse sells her performance immaculately, as one would expect, very much in her element in a shaft of ghostly moonlight, vamped up to the max with her hair spilling around the sides of hear head like twin drops of blood (although my daughter, a Millennial, remarked that it looked like a 'Backstreet Boys haircut', whatever that means). It's undoubtedly a performance to which she's perfectly suited - come on, who else were they ever going to pick? (Shut up, whoever said Siobhan Fahey) Unfortunately, like the bear in the road safety advert, it's only after a while watching this performance that you realise someone's decided it would be a fantastic idea to hang a big model bat in the French windows. And once you've noticed it the magic is immediately destroyed, because you can't help thinking it's on strings and at any moment they'll start dangling it around the set, like a hilarious moment in a Little and Large sketch.

Then, we've got the high tragedy of Diana Ross's little New York vignette. What, just what, were they thinking? Like, the traffic lights. Nice touch, very much a go-to element of a New York street scene, yes I get that, but whose idea was it to make them flash like disco lights? That's not how traffic lights work. No-one's going to get across the road with them doing that, it'll be carnage. And don't even get me started on the sewer covers. Again, steam, yes, excellent visual cue for the busy streets of The Big Apple. So why is one of them belching dry ice like something from a horror film, while the other one's restricted to the occasional limp puff? Seriously if you want steam just boil a kettle. I suspect perhaps the understaffed TOTP production team could only afford to put one person under the stage on sewer vapour duty, and rather than dash between outlets as they were supposed to they just sat under one of them constantly hitting the spurt button. Mate, you had one job.

Some discussion between Mrs Canes and I during this as to whether we were being treated to a Diana Ross
Spoiler alert
Consensus was she just about got away with it, but it was a narrow squeak