Top of the Pops

What's not currently on the box
Koen
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Top of the Pops

Post by Koen »

I don't think there's a TOTP thread on the new forum yet, so I just created one.

Sorry if this is old news but I came across a Youtube clip uploaded five months ago by one of my fellow countrymen, feauturing Marc Bolan on the 31.7.1975 TOTP (allegedly recorded at the time off-air in Belgium to U-Matic, would you believe it) which reportedly doesn't exist at the BBC. Someone asked the uploader whether he'd contacted the BBC. He said he had, but he got no reply and didn't pursue the matter any further. There are two furher clips from the same edition.

Thought I'd mention this in case it had gone unnoticed. Searching for 'TOTP 31 July 1975' should guide you to the right channel.

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Doom Patrol
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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Doom Patrol »

Have you tried posting this on the Missing Episodes forum? Might be worth your while.

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by SgtPepper »

After months of losing patience with the 1978 BBC4 repeats I was on the verge of giving up altogether before the Grease frenzy kicks in, but then a saviour appeared above the gas works. I think part of the problem aside from the iffy music is that in those days something climbing the charts would be on every second week, so with episodes being missed out due to alleged misdemeanour's by the presenters we end up with the same artists, videos and performances two or three weeks in a row. I survived the infernal Mull of Kintyre and the pointless Uptown Top Ranking and the drivel about matchstick cats and dogs only because they were punctuated with the rather delectable Kate Bush (I also had the hots for Laurel Masse of Manhatten Transfer, so Walk In Love was probably more acceptable than it should have been). Even some punk was already looking tired - Nice'N'Sleazy by the Stranglers a prime example. Then up popped Plastic Betrand with Ça Plane Pour Moi and remembering that Rivers of Babylon was going to be Number 1 I reached for the remote control to turn off and delete the Sky HD series link. But then when all seemed lost the saviour appeared - The Day the World Turned Day-Glo by X-Ray Spex. In 1978 I could barely understand a word of it and nothing has changed, but Poly Styrene definitely deserves her own statue.

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Mike S »

Whats pointless about Uptown Top Ranking?

Clive
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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Clive »

Mike S wrote:Whats pointless about Uptown Top Ranking?
I think most people agree that the "live" TOTP performance is a little bit clunky and stiff, but ironically whilst people complain I think it's great to have these alternative renditions backed by the TOTP orchestra.

Sometimes they worked, sometimes they don't. One of my favorite TOTP performances is Gladys Knight and the Pips, Midnight train to Georgia. The album track is slow and dreary whilst the TOTP version is upbeat and full of energy. The heavily pregnant Gladys looks like she is having a great time performing it as well.

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Cheeseford »

Clive wrote:Sometimes they worked, sometimes they don't. One of my favorite TOTP performances is Gladys Knight and the Pips, Midnight train to Georgia. The album track is slow and dreary whilst the TOTP version is upbeat and full of energy.
Poor old Johnny Pearson and Derek Warne often had very little time between a record charting and the artist appearing in which to 'take down' the arrangement from the disc and re-create it. The TOTP orchestra consisted of the top session musicians of the day (It was nearly always Clem Cattini on drums), all brilliant sight readers. When smirking idiots take the piss out of the TOTP orchestra, I want to thump them. They achieved miracles on a weekly basis, and as you say, some of the TOTP versions really cook.
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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Mike S »

I sometimes wonder...if that re-recording rule had still existed in 1984, would records like Relax have been recreated? Records where the wow-factor is in the recording rather than the song, if you see what I mean.

If Kraftwerk had appeared (which I don't think they did), would they have been forced to re-create The Robots from scratch? Would the orchestra have had a bash? What would have happened?

It was an absurd rule. Not least because it's based on an old-fashioned 'the song's the thing' attitude to music. Imagine Pearson and co trying to do Pump Up the Volume.

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by GarethR »

Mike S wrote:I sometimes wonder...if that re-recording rule had still existed in 1984, would records like Relax have been recreated? Records where the wow-factor is in the recording rather than the song, if you see what I mean
In Guy Pratt's excellent "My Bass and Other Animals" he talks about the system that existed by 1982, whereby bands were required to book a studio session ostensibly in order to re-record their song specifically for use as their TOTP playback tape. A Musician's Union rep would turn up to check that this was actually happening, and would typically get taken to the pub by the band's manager. By the time they came back, the track would have been "re-recorded" and, wonder of wonders, would sound absolutely identical to the single version down to the last nuance. The MU reps apparently never questioned how that was achieved from scratch in an hour in a cheap studio when the original had been carefully and expensively crafted over weeks of work in the most prestigious studios money could buy.

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Steve Williams »

Mike S wrote:I sometimes wonder...if that re-recording rule had still existed in 1984, would records like Relax have been recreated? Records where the wow-factor is in the recording rather than the song, if you see what I mean.

If Kraftwerk had appeared (which I don't think they did), would they have been forced to re-create The Robots from scratch? Would the orchestra have had a bash? What would have happened?
Well, as we can see from the BBC4 repeats, bands didn't use the Orchestra because, well, they were bands. The orchestra was used when there were solo artists or acts which were just vocalists, a la Althia and Donna. Hence that episode last November when Johnny Pearson wasn't credited, seemingly because there were no solo artists in the studio that week.

RobinCarmody
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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by RobinCarmody »

GarethR wrote:
Mike S wrote:In Guy Pratt's excellent "My Bass and Other Animals" he talks about the system that existed by 1982, whereby bands were required to book a studio session ostensibly in order to re-record their song specifically for use as their TOTP playback tape. A Musician's Union rep would turn up to check that this was actually happening, and would typically get taken to the pub by the band's manager. By the time they came back, the track would have been "re-recorded" and, wonder of wonders, would sound absolutely identical to the single version down to the last nuance. The MU reps apparently never questioned how that was achieved from scratch in an hour in a cheap studio when the original had been carefully and expensively crafted over weeks of work in the most prestigious studios money could buy.
Indeed. By that time the old structure had been hollowed out to a shell and people were pretty much going through the motions and ticking boxes - a sure sign that it was near its end (famously XTC recorded an entire B-side during such a session, I cannot remember which). The point about the orchestra and the re-recordings rule when it was enforced is that, like TOTP itself, they represented pop having to bend over backwards to fit into an essentially Old Left social order - something which was actually key to TOTP's excitement and whose disappearance was an unwitting factor in its slow death.

Of course, records in a line of descent established in the mass consciousness by "Pump Up the Volume" were recreated for TOTP - not at that time, but a few years later, during the 1991/92 era when a load of rave hits had to be performed with samples being sung live and sounded nothing like the records. There were dark rumours at the time that live performances were made compulsory just at the wrong time, in terms of the music actually in the charts, as part of a deliberate plan to make dance acts look bad - it certainly had a nasty classism and resentment of the young behind it, and appealed to the wrong sort of mentality, but it was probably inevitable because this was the time when media deregulation brought an end to the forced marriage between the audience for Altern 8 and the majority of the BBC1 audience, so TOTP had to find a new, post-Reithian place for itself (in this case, the Q magazine idea of "quality rock" which Radio 1 had also absorbed while ignoring the rave scene), and kept on painting itself into a smaller and smaller corner. I think "A Trip to Trumpton" might have been done live with someone saying that line and not even trying to sound remotely like Brian Cant, but I could be confusing it with "Roobarb and Custard" which was definitely done live with someone not even trying to sound remotely like Richard Briers.

re. an earlier post, I think Savile's guilt has been established pretty much beyond doubt and can't be considered open to question. The proof is far too strong. DLT is a separate issue, but I don't think there's anything "alleged" about Savile's crimes.

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Simon Coward »

RobinCarmody wrote:famously XTC recorded an entire B-side during such a session, I cannot remember which
It was "The Somnambulist" - a B-side to "Ten Feet Tall" in the US, and on the 'bonus single' that came with early editions of the "Generals and Majors" 7" in the UK.

It was recorded when the band were supposed to be recreating "Making Plans for Nigel", though I'm not sure if anyone other than Andy Partridge is actually on the track.
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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Simon Coward »

RobinCarmody wrote:Of course, records in a line of descent established in the mass consciousness by "Pump Up the Volume" were recreated for TOTP - not at that time, but a few years later, during the 1991/92 era when a load of rave hits had to be performed with samples being sung live and sounded nothing like the records. There were dark rumours at the time that live performances were made compulsory just at the wrong time, in terms of the music actually in the charts, as part of a deliberate plan to make dance acts look bad - it certainly had a nasty classism and resentment of the young behind it, and appealed to the wrong sort of mentality, but it was probably inevitable because this was the time when media deregulation brought an end to the forced marriage between the audience for Altern 8 and the majority of the BBC1 audience, so TOTP had to find a new, post-Reithian place for itself (in this case, the Q magazine idea of "quality rock" which Radio 1 had also absorbed while ignoring the rave scene), and kept on painting itself into a smaller and smaller corner.
You could be right as to the reasoning - but might it not have, at least partly, been an attempt to quell the criticism the programme was getting at the time, because of the ever-increasing gulf between what was on record and what the acts appeared to be doing "live"? Even during the subsequent genuine "live" period, there were still plenty of videos shown on TOTP, and for records which were mainly created "in the studio" and/or where there wasn't really a band as such in any case, that remained an option. Plenty of acts still had hits without ever appearing on the programme in person - nobody was forced to go on the show if they felt it wouldn't work for them.
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Jezza
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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Jezza »

Sadly the repeats of Top of the Pops are under threat...again, this time from the same person who made the ITV documentary about Jimmy Savile.

Mark Williams-Thomas a (so called) criminologist is making an expose about Top of the Pops in October which could put the nail in the coffin for the repeats.

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Billy »

Jesus christ, it's like anything 20th century must be removed from our memories at all costs.

Waiting for them to uncover something supposedly dodgy about any Only Fools & Horses or Fawlty Towers cast/crew/audience members so they can ban that from ever being shown again too.

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by ChartUpdate »

RobinCarmody wrote:I think "A Trip to Trumpton" might have been done live with someone saying that line and not even trying to sound remotely like Brian Cant, but I could be confusing it with "Roobarb and Custard" which was definitely done live with someone not even trying to sound remotely like Richard Briers.
For me the nadir of this came in Spring 1993 when the "Jungle Book Groove" charted, a medley record made up entirely of bolted together clips from the original film soundtrack. Despite this TOTP booked the 'act' to perform in the studio, resulting in the recruiting of someone who I presume was a West End actor to parade around in a loincloth (a la Tight Fit) and growl his way through the Bare Necessities etc. It was a performance so entirely removed from the actual record available to purchase I struggled to understand what promotional benefit it served.
RobinCarmody wrote:re. an earlier post, I think Savile's guilt has been established pretty much beyond doubt and can't be considered open to question. The proof is far too strong. DLT is a separate issue, but I don't think there's anything "alleged" about Savile's crimes.
Hehe. Without wishing to open up an entirely new can of worms, Savile's "guilt" is very much in doubt largely thanks to the work of some diligent online writers who have taken the time to do what the police and the NSPCC had little inclination to do and actually INVESTIGATE the allegations made against him. In the process they have discovered that most of the more lurid tales are pretty much built on sand. When you subject the ITV documentary that started it all to the most rudimentary of scrutiny then every tale it purports to tell crumbles to nothing. The Duncroft women have been exposed at best as collaborative fantasists with their stories debunked by their contemporaries. The reason you don't know this is because it doesn't suit the nice tidy story the media has of "Savile = monster" and nobody is prepared to deviate from that path, much to the distress of people like the numerous women who were close to him as children and who cannot understand why the papers don't want to print their stories of never having a finger laid upon them.

There's a fascinating blog - The Death Of The Life of Jimmy Savile which attempts to at least try to tell the other side of the story. When it comes down to it there is actually zero proof of any "crimes" at all.

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Ross
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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Ross »

RobinCarmody wrote: I think "A Trip to Trumpton" might have been done live with someone saying that line and not even trying to sound remotely like Brian Cant...
Yes, a boy in his late-teens, wearing a white baseball cap, belted out the line rap style.

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Mike S »

GarethR wrote: In Guy Pratt's excellent "My Bass and Other Animals" he talks about the system that existed by 1982, whereby bands were required to book a studio session ostensibly in order to re-record their song specifically for use as their TOTP playback tape. A Musician's Union rep would turn up to check that this was actually happening, and would typically get taken to the pub by the band's manager. By the time they came back, the track would have been "re-recorded" and, wonder of wonders, would sound absolutely identical to the single version down to the last nuance. The MU reps apparently never questioned how that was achieved from scratch in an hour in a cheap studio when the original had been carefully and expensively crafted over weeks of work in the most prestigious studios money could buy.
I know those stories about it being a scam (and everyone, including the MU, knowing about it), although I've always been curious about how many goodytwoshoes types did actually re-record their track.

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by GarethR »

I can't imagine that any bands whose singles relied on any amount of studio production did. If the singles were fairly basic in the first place, then maybe - so perhaps the punks, acoustic-ey types and people like that.

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by The Wooksta! »

RobinCarmody wrote: I think "A Trip to Trumpton" might have been done live with someone saying that line and not even trying to sound remotely like Brian Cant, but I could be confusing it with "Roobarb and Custard" which was definitely done live with someone not even trying to sound remotely like Richard Briers.

A trip to you tube confirms "Rhubarb & Custard" was live in the studio, with some dude with a ponytail belting out Richard Briers lines with a sneer whilst leering one of the dancers. IIRC, he was one of Steve Wright's "posse".

Two things shocked me about it. First just how *dreadful* a track it is (I remembered it being rather better) and secondly, that there are actually two different appearances.
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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by SgtPepper »

I've just caught up with the 1978 episode from the week before last. Interesting to see What a Waste by Ian Dury and the Blockheads and Angels with Dirty Faces by Sham 69 had Cilla Black sandwiched in between with Silly Boy. I have absolutely no recollection of ever hearing that song before.

Quite funny to hear Tony Blackburn say at the end of the show that there would be no show next week because of the World Cup. Not an event that bothered England fans too much in the 70's. We still had several years to wait for the halcyon days of losing on penalties in the knock out stages. :-)

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Simon Mclean »

Cheeseford wrote:
Clive wrote:Sometimes they worked, sometimes they don't. One of my favorite TOTP performances is Gladys Knight and the Pips, Midnight train to Georgia. The album track is slow and dreary whilst the TOTP version is upbeat and full of energy.
Poor old Johnny Pearson and Derek Warne often had very little time between a record charting and the artist appearing in which to 'take down' the arrangement from the disc and re-create it. The TOTP orchestra consisted of the top session musicians of the day (It was nearly always Clem Cattini on drums), all brilliant sight readers. When smirking idiots take the piss out of the TOTP orchestra, I want to thump them. They achieved miracles on a weekly basis, and as you say, some of the TOTP versions really cook.
Agreed - Larry Ashmore, who was Derek Warne's predecessor, talks about just how much pressure he and Johnny P were under here: http://larryashmore.co.uk/60-years-in-music/9/ - generally having 36 hours (if that) to endlessly replay the records to copy the arrangements down, and relying on the musos to correct any mistakes that weren't spotted.

Harold Fisher also played drums in the TOTP Orch a couple of times, and Barry Morgan was in the chair before Cattini took over - which led to the interesting spectacle of him nipping out to appear on camera whenever Blue Mink were on, then going back behind the curtain afterwards!

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by SgtPepper »

These mid/late 70's repeats sometimes play little tricks on the memory, but there's certainly no confusion over how utterly crap the Buzzcocks were.

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Mike S »

I wondered this the other day: with a few exceptions, the DJ links look as if they were recorded in one go. Is that the case? Kid Jenson never looks like he's genuinely back-announcing A Taste of Honey or whoever.

So were the links generally recorded at the start of the session (before the bands arrived) or at the end?

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Mark »

The Sky menu description of this weeks edition, said 'includes strong language'....did I miss something?

That Who film looked a bit tatty, as well.
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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Bob Richardson »

Mike S wrote:I wondered this the other day: with a few exceptions, the DJ links look as if they were recorded in one go. Is that the case? Kid Jenson never looks like he's genuinely back-announcing A Taste of Honey or whoever.

So were the links generally recorded at the start of the session (before the bands arrived) or at the end?
Absolutely not. In my day (1979-1987-ish) the shows were recorded pretty much in running order: Titles, intro, Band 1, outro/intro, Band 2, outro/intro, Band 3 etc. There was a recording break so that Flick Colby could hop into the director's seat for the dance number, and the chart countdown would sometimes be done separately (because the slide scanner was prone to jam), but the show was largely recorded in transmission order. The final number was usually played in full, so there might be a further two minutes of audience dancing after the fade of the final credit. This "tail" was useful to Pres who could opt out early, or take an extra 30 seconds if the network was running light. (The official running time of the programme was calculated from the first frame of vision (or sound if it led the vision) until the fade of the final credit.)

There were regular pre-records after the show had finished, for use in future editions, so bands would often turn up and tape a performance for the following week, if they couldn't appear live, and if their record bombed the tape wouldn't be used. Some "star" performers would also do pre-records to fit in with their busy lifestyles, and I remember being on the studio floor when Kermit's nephew, Robin, did his little A A Milne ditty. That was done as a pre-record because of the complexity of setting up the puppet, getting Jim Henson into place under the stairs etc. The "audience" for that was mainly staff and crew, as the public had departed by the time it was taped.
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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Bernie »

And in my day - 1966-77. The show was done live in the 1960s, and later when recorded was done in show order. As Bob says, after the show was done, we'd do pre-records for following weeks. A few years ago I put a couple of stories here - http://tech-ops.co.uk/next/2010/08/page-13/ . I also remember Thunderclap Newman's pre-record, as I was in shot on that driving my Heron several weeks running. I've never seen it again, so I assume it was wiped.

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by ray lomas »

Mark wrote:The Sky menu description of this weeks edition, said 'includes strong language'....did I miss something?

That Who film looked a bit tatty, as well.
BBC iPlayer has a similar warning - presumably due to said clip featuring a prominent "fuck" from Roger Daltrey; it's expurgated from the vocal soundtrack but his lips are very easy to read. John Entwistle also says something which sounds very much like "shit" shortly before.

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by ray lomas »

Bob Richardson wrote:
Mike S wrote:The final number was usually played in full, so there might be a further two minutes of audience dancing after the fade of the final credit. This "tail" was useful to Pres who could opt out early, or take an extra 30 seconds if the network was running light.
I remember once reading somewhere (very probably the old version of this forum) that this was also at least partly due to the fact that Tomorrow's World was notorious for under-running and was the result of a sort of gentleman's agreement between the producers of both shows and Pres - the sort of thing that I imagine wouldn't/couldn't happen nowadays.

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Steve Williams »

Mike S wrote:I wondered this the other day: with a few exceptions, the DJ links look as if they were recorded in one go. Is that the case? Kid Jenson never looks like he's genuinely back-announcing A Taste of Honey or whoever.

So were the links generally recorded at the start of the session (before the bands arrived) or at the end?
There are plenty of examples of the host being in vision to introduce the bands, and also plenty of evidence that the show was shot in real time, there are loads of back references to the performances and in the background of lots of the peformances you can see bands being set up and the presenters getting into position. Noel was drowned out by Mr Big's drummer this week. Watch more carefully. When they have the studio pan over the credits you can even see the Legs & Co set, even though it would seem to make more sense to pre-record that at a separate session. The only episodes where you would assume they did it the other way, the 76 Christmas shows where they were behind the table and didn't interact at all, you could still see the table in the long shots with Savile and Blackburn behind it waiting for their cue.

This week too there was some sort of brief cock-up at the end of the chart as "30 ANDREW GOLD" was very briefly superimposed over "01 COMMODORES" as if it was about to start cycling around again.

What is perhaps odd from a modern perspective is that there seems to be no obvious rhyme nor reason to the running order so you can get lots of studio performances in a row and then a lot of videos and repeats in a row when you'd think they'd want to spread the studio performances out a bit to give them time to dress the sets and have a bit of a break - as seemed to be case in the eighties and nineties when you knew where the videos would go (the second track was always a video, for example). But no. Maybe they stopped therecordinga few times but it's clearly mostly as-live.

I certainly assume we're seeing more of the end credits now than we ever would have got on BBC1 at the time.

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Re: Top of the Pops

Post by Steve Williams »

Incidentally this week's episode getting an outing for the first time since 1978 confirms two little Pops facts - the week The Ladybirds were rebranded as The Maggie Stredder Singers and, I think, the week Robin Nash ascended to the role of Executive Producer with an array of Producers working under him.

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