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Top Of The Pops 1978 - BBC4


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Old 05-01-2013, 15:35
Servalan
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Even though Mighty Real had been released in 1976/77


Surely some mistake ...

Mighty Real was recorded in 1977 but only released in 1978, on Sylvester's Step II album ...

One of the songs of the year - and also one of the best TOTP moments of 1978, too, when they featured the video ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTmiUgx0ptw
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Old 05-01-2013, 16:35
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Enjoyed the programmes.

1978 to 1980 was certainly the best time for TotP that I can recall (slightly young to be truly aware in the late 60s).

A few bad apples last night (I mean, who actually bought The Smurfs).

A few observations:

I recall thinking, when the dreadful Spice Girls were prattling on about 'girl power' that they were many years too late. The female acts of the late 70s did far more.

Le Freak may be the best disco song ever - edging out Kool and the Gang.

The musicianship on those disco tracks was often exceptional, most of the players had come from the soul scene which had cooled somewhat.


"Night Fever", "You're a Wobbly Dog" and "Summer Nights" are burned into my brain. Mind you, they immediately catapult me to that year.

Great to see Marley - non appreciators of reggae can twist on it.

I'm not certain that the lyrics to "Rasputin" are entirely historically correct

The best chart songs of 1978, for me, were "Uptown Top Ranking", "Baker Street" and "Take Me I'm Yours"

"Sometimes When We Touch" by Dan Hill is a beautiful love song but it needs the full version which includes the section that starts "At times I understand you and know how hard you tried."

I remember how much my parents hated "Wuthering Heights" - and how that just added to my liking for it
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Old 05-01-2013, 17:12
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Its not just the records that get to number on that have the greatest influence and, even if a number of new wave songs only made the top 20, punk and new wave had an influence that you can still hear today.

The same though can be said of disco. Its not a competition of one vs the other. Both new wave and disco had significant influence in the same year. One key difference is that, with some notable exceptions like Chic and Rose Royce, disco artists tended to be one or two hit wonders. Few dance artists had a long term chart career even if their individual tracks had great influence
You missed the point of my post. I didn't say anything about what's more influential, and there's no doubt that punk, new wave and disco were more influential than the Smurfs.

I pointed out that the talking heads on the show were saying there was some sort of conspiracy about not puttng those genres on the show, in particular on the 1978 Christmas Special. Top of the Pops was not there to play the influential songs, it was there to play the biggest hits. And in that respect, it did what it says on the tin.
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Old 05-01-2013, 18:04
faversham saint
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Le Freak may be the best disco song ever - edging out Kool and the Gang.

The musicianship on those disco tracks was often exceptional, most of the players had come from the soul scene which had cooled somewhat.
Jumping ahead a year (or two) IMO the BIB is evident in abundance on the horn-driven, top ten disco hit 'I Shoulda Loved Ya' by Narada Michael Walden which includes a funky bassline Bernard Edwards would have been proud of, two superb sax breaks (the second after the bass "solo" towards the end of the record sounds beautifully melancholy), precision drumming and a plaintive background organ which chimes perfectly with the song's theme - i.e. the lamenting of a romantic opportunity that was squandered.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tx1A8qTzKV8
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Old 05-01-2013, 19:54
ClareB
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You missed the point of my post. I didn't say anything about what's more influential, and there's no doubt that punk, new wave and disco were more influential than the Smurfs.

I pointed out that the talking heads on the show were saying there was some sort of conspiracy about not puttng those genres on the show, in particular on the 1978 Christmas Special. Top of the Pops was not there to play the influential songs, it was there to play the biggest hits. And in that respect, it did what it says on the tin.
I couldn't have put it better myself. I was too young to be buying music in 1978, though I totally get that a 16 year old into punk/new wave didn't like it when Boney M, Showaddywaddy, Brotherhood of Man, etc were on TOTP, but the way the show was trying to make out that these acts were only on purely because they were more family friendly was ridiculous. I found that female journalist who was interviewed particualrly annoying in this respect. The fact is they were on because their records sold lots and were big hits.

The only interesting bits about the show were the fact, as has already been mentioned, that DLT was shown and also film clips from Grease and Saturday Night Fever. Hopefully this means we'll get the DLT shows and there's no problem with the rights to the Grease/SNF clips which I was worried about after the Elvis/Bing Crosby edits.
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Old 05-01-2013, 20:01
CLA29
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I just watched this. I was born in 78 so I've been waiting for this year. Sorry to say that my parents must have bought the smurf song because it ended up in my record collection that I used to play endlessly when I was about 4 or 5. If only I still had them.
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Old 05-01-2013, 20:12
Phoenix Lazarus
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A few bad apples last night (I mean, who actually bought The Smurfs).
Me.

Well, I was nine years old-and it is not top of my list of things of songs I want to hear again.
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Old 05-01-2013, 21:20
ChristopherJ
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I enjoyed these clips, most of which I've seen many times before, I must admit, mostly of New Wave bands I was actually going out to see live at the time. But it was seeing Sue from Legs & Co. that did it for me.
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Old 06-01-2013, 00:00
Westy2
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Me.

Well, I was nine years old-and it is not top of my list of things of songs I want to hear again.
I found the Smurfs xmas song in our 7 inch collection years ago.

Dunno who originally bought it though.
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Old 06-01-2013, 03:37
Rich Tea.
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I just watched this. I was born in 78 so I've been waiting for this year. Sorry to say that my parents must have bought the smurf song because it ended up in my record collection that I used to play endlessly when I was about 4 or 5. If only I still had them.
Being 9 and at junior school in the summer of 1978 I can tell you that the Smurfs seemed incredibly popular, so the size of their hit record should be no surprise. I seem to recall Smurfs in the classroom on the end of my friends pencils and all kinds of things. I never had any though. Not guilty, my hands are clean. The bigger surprise to me was in 1996 when the Smurfs came back, minus Father Abraham, and had a couple more top ten hits!
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Old 06-01-2013, 11:50
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Rewatching the Story of 1978, I think it's unfair to say that any act that wasn't punk lacked credibility. If these artists weren't selling records, they wouldn't be on TOTP. They also run down the producers for choosing not to have punk bands on, when the producers just featured whoever was in the charts at the time. The reason why there was more punk on TOTP in 78 was because more punk began to get into the charts. In 1976 and 77 there was very little punk in the top 20 hence why it didn't appear so much.

On the subject on miming, I actually prefer it when they didn't sing live. It makes it sound so much better. When all artists were forced to sing live in 1991, I think that's when it went downhill. Some of the bands sounded awful.
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Old 06-01-2013, 16:25
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What a fantastic documentary The Story of 1978 was, looking forward to the dominance of new wave and post-punk in the months ahead, Lulu and Sue certainly are not as young as they once were these days. Also full marks to the BBC for keeping DLT in the documentary. Bring on TOTP 1978.
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Old 06-01-2013, 16:33
ClareB
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I didn't think Sue and Lulu looked that bad. I think some people may be in denial about how long ago 1978 was. I'm guessing they were early-mid 20s then, so will be well into their 50s now.
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Old 06-01-2013, 18:37
Servalan
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Rewatching the Story of 1978, I think it's unfair to say that any act that wasn't punk lacked credibility. If these artists weren't selling records, they wouldn't be on TOTP. They also run down the producers for choosing not to have punk bands on, when the producers just featured whoever was in the charts at the time. The reason why there was more punk on TOTP in 78 was because more punk began to get into the charts. In 1976 and 77 there was very little punk in the top 20 hence why it didn't appear so much.

On the subject on miming, I actually prefer it when they didn't sing live. It makes it sound so much better. When all artists were forced to sing live in 1991, I think that's when it went downhill. Some of the bands sounded awful.
BIB - although this documentary made a superficial effort to redress 'the punk changed everything' mantra of 1976/1977, that message remained subtextual throughout, particularly when the research was so poor. We were informed that disco acts rarely appeared on TOTP, hence us having to make do with Tina Charles ... yet Charles had only one minor hit in 1978 and was in any case eclipsed by the likes of Hi Tension (exclusively British) and Heatwave (with its lead songwriter Brit Rod Temperton). Still, why let the facts get in the way of peddling a myth ...?

The reality is that pop history is way more complex than what was suggested in The Story Of 1978. The smart punk groups were in awe of the disco artists' musicianship - that's why Topper Headon of The Clash had to be locked out of Chic's recording studio when both groups were laying down tracks in the same New York building. And if you want a real punk-to-funk journey, look no further than Chaz Jankel, Ian Dury's keyboardist and musical collaborator, whose 'Ai No Corrida' was covered by Quincy Jones and had solo number one club hits in the US. Or maybe that would be too much for the 'punk changed everything' brigade at the BBC?
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Old 06-01-2013, 20:06
Tele_addict
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BIB - although this documentary made a superficial effort to redress 'the punk changed everything' mantra of 1976/1977, that message remained subtextual throughout, particularly when the research was so poor. We were informed that disco acts rarely appeared on TOTP, hence us having to make do with Tina Charles ... yet Charles had only one minor hit in 1978 and was in any case eclipsed by the likes of Hi Tension (exclusively British) and Heatwave (with its lead songwriter Brit Rod Temperton). Still, why let the facts get in the way of peddling a myth ...?

The reality is that pop history is way more complex than what was suggested in The Story Of 1978. The smart punk groups were in awe of the disco artists' musicianship - that's why Topper Headon of The Clash had to be locked out of Chic's recording studio when both groups were laying down tracks in the same New York building. And if you want a real punk-to-funk journey, look no further than Chaz Jankel, Ian Dury's keyboardist and musical collaborator, whose 'Ai No Corrida' was covered by Quincy Jones and had solo number one club hits in the US. Or maybe that would be too much for the 'punk changed everything' brigade at the BBC?
Luckily this should be the last year where we get 'punk changed everything' as punk declines towards the end of 1979. I also didn't like some of the things that were said. Lead singer of the Skids Richard Jobson saying how much he hated being on Top of the Pops amongst 'a sea of shit' as he put it. His opinion only, and he was actually lucky to have been offered TOTP. What made him think he was so much better than all the other acts on there? And who was that other woman who was moaning about it being all light entertainment and legs and co...excuse me love, nothing wrong with a bit of legs and co! You get the feeling that all these people being interviewed were running the show down because of it's cheesiness, miming etc, when there was nothing wrong with it the way it was, that's why we all watch even now. It may not appeal to the music critics, but there was enough variety for everyone, and if there had been an alternative as Richard Jobson said at the end, it would not have been as popular as TOTP.
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Old 06-01-2013, 20:40
faversham saint
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The guy in Boney M always seemed to play the fool!!
...but the girl in Boney M never seemed to fake the orgasm!!

Check out 2.30 - 2.55 in the link below - 'family friendly' indeed !!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...cDjBmAu4uZI8NQ
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Old 06-01-2013, 20:49
faversham saint
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I also didn't like some of the things that were said. Lead singer of the Skids Richard Jobson saying how much he hated being on Top of the Pops amongst 'a sea of shit' as he put it.
Old punks die hard
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Old 06-01-2013, 22:29
Rich Tea.
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I tended to think the documentary of 1978 was a bit on the superficial side, and almost cliche ridden much of the time.

Clare I agree with you about the denial of just how long ago 1978 was. I've had this conversation recently talking about 1982, a year I recall like yesterday. It is quite horrific to say 30 years ago in 1982! 31 now infact, oohh. I much rather just say the year and forget the maths! It's more bareable. 1978 is still a year just before my musical first hand time memory, with sporadic exceptions, such as Grease and Smurfs.

I belted out What A Waste last night and I have a question that others may be able to answer about the record. During the line about being "an inmate in a mental institution" Ian Dury slightly sniggers as he sings it. Was this an accident left in because it sounded good, or was it deliberate? I bet someone here knows!
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Old 06-01-2013, 22:31
Westy2
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Is this the same Richard Jobson who became a journalist & worked on the BBC 'Biteback' programme with Sue Lawley?
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Old 06-01-2013, 22:51
Servalan
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Luckily this should be the last year where we get 'punk changed everything' as punk declines towards the end of 1979. I also didn't like some of the things that were said. Lead singer of the Skids Richard Jobson saying how much he hated being on Top of the Pops amongst 'a sea of shit' as he put it. His opinion only, and he was actually lucky to have been offered TOTP. What made him think he was so much better than all the other acts on there? And who was that other woman who was moaning about it being all light entertainment and legs and co...excuse me love, nothing wrong with a bit of legs and co! You get the feeling that all these people being interviewed were running the show down because of it's cheesiness, miming etc, when there was nothing wrong with it the way it was, that's why we all watch even now. It may not appeal to the music critics, but there was enough variety for everyone, and if there had been an alternative as Richard Jobson said at the end, it would not have been as popular as TOTP.
I think you have hit the nail on the head. There was so much criticism of what TOTP was as if it should have been something else - but that's rather like saying what's wrong with EastEnders is that it should be set in Newcastle ... TOTP had a format, end of story. What's the point in pulling that apart?
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Old 06-01-2013, 23:02
faversham saint
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Is this the same Richard Jobson who became a journalist & worked on the BBC 'Biteback' programme with Sue Lawley?
Yes - he was also married to Mariella Frostrup and (as you probably know) his bandmate and songwriting partner in The Skids, guitarist Stuart Adamson went on to form the group Big Country in 1982 and later committed suicide at the age of 43.
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Old 06-01-2013, 23:19
faversham saint
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I belted out What A Waste last night and I have a question that others may be able to answer about the record. During the line about being "an inmate in a mental institution"
I always thought he said "long term institution"
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Old 06-01-2013, 23:23
Phoenix Lazarus
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I always thought he said "long term institution"
So did I.
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Old 06-01-2013, 23:59
darren1090
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The musicianship on those disco tracks was often exceptional, most of the players had come from the soul scene which had cooled somewhat.
Actually, the musicianship in true disco is exceptional almost without exception, specifically if you are talking about the period 1976-9.

Most of the disco productions of the time were backed by a full symphony orchestra, and these were the musicians you were hearing. It's almost unimaginable now that someone could make a record by recording an orchestra, not least with the costs involved. In fact, disco led to the advent of 48-track recording.

The most famous disco orchestra was in Philadelphia, responsible for much of the output on the Philadelphia International label (Three Degrees, MFSB, Billy Paul, etc.) and Salsoul. But there were many others.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disco_orchestration

The examples that got in the chart really only scratches the surface. Some of the best examples of disco orchestrations are on records that are little known except by disco fans.
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Old 07-01-2013, 00:40
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I always assumed TOTP acts mimed to the studio recordings. But they didnt, they werent allowed to(MU rules). What they were allowed to do was record a live performance and mime to that. So they'd go in the day before for eg, the TOTP producers would record their live performance. It's a testament to the skills of the producers, to get a sound very similar to the studio recording.
This was from 1966 -1980.
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