Monday, July 31, 2006
One of my earliest memories is of watching TOTP at the age of around three. That was it: my life was ruined. I was going to be obsessed with pop music forever to the detriment of everything else.
Even at the age of a hundred and forty seven, I still love pop music. I ought to take up interests that would leave me with a dignity more suitable for my age - knitting, home brewing, watching the X-Factor, dragging my screaming grandchildren around Sainsbury's looking tired, talking about life insurance policies or leaving bitchy comments about Liz Jones' column in the Daily Mail on their website, perhaps ...
Instead, I have watched TOTP from the age of three until the final show last night (give or take a few years' intermittent watching due to being a music snob and having a young person's social life).
Good to see one of my favourite clips - Arsenal wonderboy Peter Marinello judging a dancing competition and having a stilted conversation with a girl wearing outlandish false eyelashes - ending up on the final show.
For a number of years it provided a useful marker for the Generation Gap, with parents likely to complain that "you can't tell if they're a boy or a girl - they've all got long hair and the women don't wear any make up" (late 1960's) or "you can't tell if they're a boy or a girl - they've all got short hair and they all wear too much make up, even the men" (1970's).
My dad would find it all a bit ridiculous, but his ultimate insult, for an act that was beyond the pale, would be the comment "it's a shame". I worked out that this usually applied to men singing in high whiney voices. Neil Young performing Heart Of Gold was probably the epitomy of the unfortunates in this category.
Still, we old gits don't like to think there is a generation gap anymore. All the people on TOTP look so nice nowadays, don't they? That big chinned boy from McFly would probably merit an "it's a shame" from my dad on his looks alone, but even the rockers are hardly likely to have you quaking in your boots. The Feeling! Keane! The Kooks! Piss off grandad, this is better than all that tuneless bollocks with the shouting! And we've got a ten year plan which keeps the record company happy!
Anyway, as a final tribute to the show, a My Dad Sed top five:
1. "It's a shame" - Neil Young
2. "She's riddled with pox" - Madonna
3. "She's what is known as a distasteful woman" - Kate Bush
4. "It's a shame" - Jim Diamond
5. "That singer is about two hundred years old, isn't he?" - Ian Curtis of Joy Division
Goodbye, Top. It's a shame.
There was an era when respectable acts refused to go on. And then something awful happened to the youth of this country and they couldn't wait to abase themselves, guitars in hand.
Then there were horrible eras when guitars weren't fashionable, and it was just people poncing around with keyboards - especially those keyboards designed for poncing around with, worn around the neck on straps.
Anyone decent on it only lent it a kudos it didn't deserve. For every appearance by, say, The Jam, you had fifteen years of Clive Dunn singing "Grandad."
Sorry. I'll stop now.
No-one cares if it's definitive - it was the juxtaposition of the gems with the shite that made it great.
My brother and I graduated from slagging off Tony Hart's gallery ('no way a twelve year old did that') to cheering or groaning along to every chart position as it was recounted.
There's a natural rhythm to these things. Top of The Pops kicks off the weekend, with wrestling and Doctor Who for Saturday teatime, with Blind date while your getting ready to go out.
A real shame - all 'cos Andy Peters was scared of Simon Anstell and Popworld
"Tuneless, dirty, depressing - how can anyone find that entertaining?"
"So you didn't like the Sex Pistols, then?"
"Oh, they were OK. At least they had a bit of get up and go about them. No, I mean this lot."
He was talking about Hot Chocolate, performing that week's Number One: "So You Win Again".
And I used to accompany each Top 40 countdown with thumb gestures: up, down or sideways, depending on the quality of the Hit Sound in question. Like a little Nero, I was.
I'm afraid the advent of "boybandz" drivel severely scarred me for life, so I eventually withdrew to my own little cocoon of punk and what was then considered "heavy" rock (*titter*).
I now find myself 'Living In The Past'...
First up apologies for your temporary absence from the Swipe roll of honour - I trust you are not too miffed to ever forgive me (excuse the split infinitive - this is important..) Oh...go on, I'll say nice stuff about your knockers if you will...and I've added a few exclamation points to draw attention to you - you can't say fairer than that (awaits Eric Morecambe style "it's easy for you to say" style response... Pleeeeeaaaaasssssseeeeee Bet!!!???
Favourite TOTP moment. Peely's "Big Country - the group that puts the tree back into Big Country.."
Joint second: My Dad prophesying the rebirth of the Bee Gees career with Jive Talking ("that's class, that is"), and ushering in the Saturday Nacht Fever era.
Mozzer's back pocket bush, as worn on their second appearance playing "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now"
God, two Doppelganger avatars in a row - three more and it could have been a tribute to Pan's People ...
Eloquently put, as ever. There was a thrill about one of one your favourite bands getting on there although it's quite funny to think how that could have really been subversive in some way.
It seems like the BBC has been trying to get rid of it for years - moving it to a Friday night opposite Coronation Street, then to Sundays on BBC2, getting Andi Peters involved ...
Mike - the only TOTP performance I can remember my miserable old dad commending was Snowbird by Anne Murray. Hey, rahk 'n' roll!
Unfortunately, during the recent TOTP chart rundowns I was still likely to flick the V's at Paolo Nutini, James Morrison or whoever else I objected to. A good job it has finished. Perhaps it will mean that I have to grow up at long last.
TC - Living In The Past: Jethro Tull, victims of another My Dad Sed comment actually - "LOOK AT HIM! HE IS A MADMAN! HE'S WILD!! HE'S NOT EVEN HUMAN! HE'S OBVIOUSLY ON DRUGS!!"
Robert - Ahem, I thought it was because I had said something you disapproved of (bloggers tending to be moody bastards on the whole). Still, I'm willing to let bygones be bygones. Whatever a bygone is.
Your dad had got good taste.
Trying to look back at favourite moments on TOTP is difficult. The time the late great Billy Mackenzie handed sweets out to girls infront of the stage? Steve Priest of the Sweet as a ridiculous, camp Kaiser Bill doing Blockbuster? Mike Skinner of the Streets strung out on what seemed to be a lethal cocktail of drugs and booze a couple of years ago? Jah Wobble's evil missing teeth grin to the camera during PIL's Death Disco (as featured on Troubled Diva Xtra)?
Richard II - well, they were being bolshy, weren't they? Quite a few bands used to swap members round. As it were.
It would have to be something pretty awful for me to fall out with someone with such fabulous knockers who looks so much like Amanda Donohoe...
And this was the wonderful 'sixties'.
I suppose there were lean years when music was generally pretty awful (the mid '80's for example) and to be fair it just reflected the taste of the public who were putting the records in the charts. I think it was a good place to see a variety of acts, regardless of whether they were miming, playing guitars, whatever, and occasionally have your preconceptions challenged.
Robert - hmm, you say all this now that Spinsterella is moving to Thailand. Bloody typical. Always second best.
Ben - yeah, Nirvana were great on there. That performance seems to have been shown on telly a number of times. I honestly can't remember the Eels on there. Must've missed it: will have to have a look on YouTube.
Mark - well it was primarily a pop show, with a few rock acts thrown in if they sold enough records. Thing is, all those TOTP shows from the 1960's have been recorded over by the BBC, but there's still plenty of archive of the Stones, Beatles, Hendrix and so on elsewhere which is still shown nowadays. I suppose the likes of Radiohead and Coldplay will represent how "great" current music is in twenty years' time on retrospective tv programmes. Hmm.
There was a lot of unresolved tension among the presenters I sensed. Several jokes appeared to be laced rather heavily with tarmac-thick sarcasm. Can't imagine that the green room was a popular place afterwards.
THis is the only time I ever remember either of them listening to any music. (My Mum's Don Williams tape doesn't count.
Richard III - oh, all those egos in one studio. What a bunch of twats as well. I make an exception for Sir James who is a law unto himself and Tony Blackburn, who, unlike all the other jocks was always happier playing soul and disco music than the bloody Eagles or Eric Bastard Clapton. Quite touching that an ex-public schoolboy was enthusiastic about the same music as working class teenage girls (the people whose taste is always taken less seriously than anybody else's).
Garfer - what WAS it about Suzi Quatro in that catsuit? Even my dad was an enthusiast.
Spinsterella - blimey, you must've been sent to bed very early. A good job, too, if you were going to get corrupted by songs like Golden Brown.
Not so, Bettster. The Spinster's just lower maintenance than you - reinforced bras don't come cheap, as you know... Mind you, the hair straightener ate up the batteries like there was no tomorrow and I'll be glad not to be looking over my shoulders at the competition anymore (well, apart from Geoff, obviously...) once The Spinster hits the low life pick up joints of the Orient.
Still, I'd be lying if I said I'm not going to miss those dulcet Ulster tones - "Jorn yer tay's rudder nigh" and so on.
btw - I hope you make a nice strong cuppa, Bettster - I like to dance a jig on mine...My Mum's name was Betty too - only her side of the vomily all pronounced it Badd-ah. Probably something deeply Freudian goin on here...
Best wrod vrecfication yet: zenvd (you couldn't make it up....)
... and is "John, yow tae's readee naaeeew, get yowsilf daaeewn them bluddy stairs?" necessarily any better?
Used to drink tae - sorry, tea - as strong and dark as Oliver Tobias, but it has done my innards in and I now lead a sadly caffeine free life.
Well Bettster, I have one barely used (well, I say barely - inappropriately used would be more accurate) hair straightener currently acting as a pillow - I've cried the others to tatters. It's yours for a flash of your knockers and a nice, mug of mahogany shade brew.
Ahhhhh dipthongs......unkempt locks......knockers to die for - and all in an Amanda Donohoe shaped package......
Does Geoff realise how bloody luck he is?
I'd buy some of that Oliver Tobias coffee, I would. When I stopped laughing.Can you imagine the advert?
Anyway, what is N.S.F.? National Science Foundation? National Service Framework? According to Google, anyway. I'm sure there is something which everyone else knows about here which I don't understand, and now I've admitted it I will become a laughing stock.
Robert, part VIII - I don't bother using hair straighteners. The minute you go outside your hair starts to crinkle up. I could do a long, cathartic post about all the problems my hair has caused me one day, but I'll probably have to seek professional help afterwards.
I seem to be evolving into some kind of uber-cyberwoman. With a Cannock accent. Disturbing.
Arabella - The Oliver Tobias coffee sounds like a winner. Would the packaging be like those Paul Newman dressings and marinades?
When Leonard Rossiter died was it R.I.P. R.I.P.?
Bob, I know how lucky I am. Because I'm Oliver Reed and I'm pissed as a fucking fart.
Except now you don't get to personalise them and picture the song and its message in your mind. They either smack you over the head with it or spoon feed you an assortment of hipster cliches.
I think that Kate Bush is a goddess.
Homo Escapeons - there are a few directors who have had a break through working in pop videos but it seems that nowadays the more imaginative videos have been replaced by wall to wall women in bikinis/blokes in limousine cliches. A lot of the mystique has been lost from music. Still, no use grumbling about how things were better in the "good old days".
Kate Bush seems to have stood back from the media circus, so fair play to her.
I didn't mean to sound so preachy. Thanks to my daughters I have discovered lots of modern bands that have for whatever reasons stuck in my craw...like Go!Team! whoda thunkit?
As I tap this message I am listenin' to Love On A Real Train by Tangerine Dream and just finished hearing Love me or let me be by Friends of Distinction.
I am a mess.