Monday, July 31, 2006


So, let me be the last person on the interweb to bid a fond farewell to Top Of The Pops.

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.

I watched it, too. I had to explain to 17 yo step-daughter that the bit where Bowie put his arm round Mick Ronson almost brought down the Heath Government. I see the BBC managed to corral Messrs Travis, Reid, Blackburn et al for a final mess of inanity. What's the collective noun for a group of twats? Highlight for me was John Peel introducing Keith Harris and Orville.
I'm afraid I've always been too much of a music snob - from the age of 4 - , and I shan't miss it, not a bit. Whether it was Engelbert Humperdink, Pilot, Duran Ballet, Take That, or Legs and Co., I thought it was all rubbish.

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.
My dad's comment was always:

'Dear oh lor, look at the state of that!- Is that a bloke?'
On a more serious note, I think they've bottled it. They lost their way with 'download charts' and all that nonsense.
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
...and from my dad, directly after the Sex Pistols "Pretty Vacant":

"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 always used to watch it in the seventies when there was something to see on it.

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'...
Yo, The Bettster!!

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"
There was also the time The Stranglers were on, can't remember which ditty they performed, but either Hugh Cornwell or JJ had made a point of not stringing their guitar. Quite what that set out to prove I'm not sure - they didn't have to go on at all, let alone mime.
To the TOTP pontificating Dad hall of fame - I'd like to nominate mine with his annoying "that'll be top of the pops" predictions: The Bee Gees - 'Massachusetts' and Scott McKenzie - 'I You're Going to San Francisco', for example.
Richard - at least Noel Bastard Bastard Edmonds wasn't involved. Did you see the Guardian Weekend, with all the pop stars' anecdotes about appearing on there? My favourite one was Jerry Dammers recalling walking into the canteen where Mike Read was playing Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds on an acoustic guitar, and everyone was too scared to laugh because of the power he had.

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.
Arabella - did your dad's talent for predicting top pop records run out after 1967 then?

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...
Nirvana doing 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' was a classic moment - but my favourite appearance has to be Eels' debut when they mimed to 'Novocaine For The Soul'. Butch was "playing" a child's miniature drumkit, and halfway through the song (as it carried on playing) they stopped miming and all trashed the drumkit by jumping up and down on it. Marvellous.
I'm going to sound horribly and perhaps uncharacteristically grumpy here, but I'm glad to see the back of it. It was rubbish in the 60s, for heaven's sake. Despite all the music.
Either that or he went on night shifts, I'm not sure...
We all used to cram into the uni telly room in 196? to watch it in black and white. The room emptied in less than a microsecond when Engelbert came on at no1. It went on for weeks and weeks - people got there early to get the seat nearest the door.
And this was the wonderful 'sixties'.
ahem, Holyhoses - I seem to have overlooked you back there ...

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.
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Ah, all those kids who were forced to stand in front of Englebert or Ken Dodd on TOTP, looking bored and annoyed.
i was happy to see that DLT hasn't got any less bitter over the years. it was coming off him in waves - that man makes noel edmonds look relaxed and accepting of the past.
Any old people out there who can remember King Crimson performing their only single, "Catfood" on there? That would have been enthralling.

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.
My first memory of TOTP is watching mesmerised as Suzie Quattro's boobies bounced up and down to 'Devil Gate Drive'.
I remember getting out of bed as a very small child and my parents were watching the Stranglers do Golden Brown on TOTP. I must have been 5 or 6.

THis is the only time I ever remember either of them listening to any music. (My Mum's Don Williams tape doesn't count.
Surly Girl - yeah, he probably still thinks that The People still want him back on Radio One, if only it wasn't for all those bloody executives who don't know what THE MAN ON THE STREET really likes. Snigger.

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.
"Bloody typical. Always second best."

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....)
... but I also have difficult to manage curly hair ...

... 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.
Can I just sneak in and note that the correct pay-off line for your post title is "Don't know what her name is..."

R.I.P. N.S.F.
".. but I also have difficult to manage curly hair ..."

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?
Hate to interrupt you two - I did knock!- but
I'd buy some of that Oliver Tobias coffee, I would. When I stopped laughing.Can you imagine the advert?
Tim - well, it would have been a bit unwieldy putting all that into the title.

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?
Norman Stanley Fletcher.

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.
Arrgh - I meant Oliver Tobias tea, Betty. But you knew that and were being kind.
On this side of the pond we were stuck with the cryogenically preserved teenager Dick Clark and American Bandstand. Next was the tackier Solid Gold. Then came music videos and the death of the lyricist. Most Videos are just very expensive lipsynching commercials like those old crappy poorly lit TV shows.

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.
Arabella - well, I know how it is. I could see that empty bottle of gin by your desk and I didn't want to say anything.

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.
You can never go back and the music du jour melts into your teenage still forming brain.
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.
I wasn't having a go at you - more checking myself for complaining about MTV culture and how it's changed music. There is an overwhelming amount of music available now and I wouldn't want to be one of those bitter old sods who thinks good music stopped happening when I hit my twenty third birthday. As you suggest, it's a matter of keeping an open mind.
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