1st April 1976
BBC Four transmission: 1st April 2011, 22:00
Full chart details
Full chart details
It may have seemed like an elaborate April Fools joke, but the BBC's upmarket channel BBC Four really did devote most of the evening of 1st April 2011 to Top Of The Pops. The evening kicked off with a round-up of the few remaining clips from 1964-1975, followed by a documentary about the year 1976 which set in context the evening's main event - the first in an ongoing series of TOTP reruns.
Thirty-five years to the day after its original broadcast, up pops Tony Blackburn with a cheery "Hello and welcome once again to Top Of The Pops!" after which we're treated to a complete top 30 rundown - a curious feature to those of us who remember the '80s format which had the chart rundown broken up throughout the show and the big Number One reveal right at the end. Also curious is the fact that there are three Beatles records in the top 30, but more of that later because the top 30 countdown is finished and we're launched straight into...
Sailor - "Girls, Girls, Girls" (#21)
Well, hello Sailor. Ostensibly British, although their singer was Norwegian and one of the keyboardists born in Germany, Sailor had scored a number 2 hit in the early weeks of 1976 with their previous single A Glass Of Champagne. Whereas their first hit was clearly influenced by Roxy Music's Virginia Plain, this one owed more to Eno's Liver Salts than Brian Eno. Singer Georg Kajanus regales us with tales of girls of all types: "shy girls, sexy girls" with a frankly enormous zit on the side of his nose, while the two keyboard players do battle on some kind of bizarre Siamese piano, seemingly consisting of two uprights superglued together back to back. Kajanus would have us believe that he has enjoyed carnal knowledge of girls from all continents, when in fact he looks like he would be more at home in an episode of Spongebob Squarepants. And there's a bass drum stuck to the side of the piano for no apparent reason.
Diana Ross - "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" (#25)
Blackburn implores us to stay tuned with the promise of "the fabulous Beatles" later in the show before linking to a promo film of Miss Ross not lip-synching to her latest hit while travelling around Europe in a car. Having begun her post-Supremes solo career at the start of the decade with hits such as Ain't No Mountain High Enough and I'm Still Waiting, this single was her biggest hit in five years, eventually reaching number 5.
Tarney & Spencer - "I'm Your Man Rock 'n' Roll"
Despite Blackburn's optimism that this was "gonna be a smash hit for them", Tarney & Spencer completely failed to trouble the chart compilers with this nonsensical string of clichés. The failure of this single belies the fact that singer Alan Tarney is something of a pop music legend, having worked extensively with Cliff Richard throughout the '70s and '80s - he wrote Cliff's classic We Don't Talk Anymore and produced Wired For Sound amongst others - before going on to produce a string of hits for a-ha in the mid '80s, not to mention Saint Etienne's shimmering pop gem You're In A Bad Way in 1993. A shame, then, that this single is horseshit.
Abba - "Fernando" (#14)
Two years on from their Eurovision win with Waterloo, Abba were only now on the verge of becoming huge. Mamma Mia had finally given them a second chart topper in January of this year, while this would go on to become their third. A brief snatch of promo film heralds a full studio appearance next week, by which time - hopefully - the fire will have been extinguished and the quartet will be able to concentrate on becoming Sweden's biggest export without the threat of being burnt alive.
Laurie Andrew - "I'll Never Love Anyone Anymore"
The Internet™ seems to know very little about Laurie Andrew, except that he followed this non-hit with a cover of Singing The Blues which was equally unsuccessful. "Hang on to your star, but remember who you are," advises Andrew as part of an inoffensive ballad which comprehensively shoots down the myth that "Top Of The Pops could only show what was in the charts."
Hank Mizell - "Jungle Rock" (#18)
"We'd love to have him on the show," bemoans Tony, "trouble is, nobody can find him!" Not surprising really as by the time it was a hit, this record was already eighteen years old. Having failed to chart in 1958, it was revived in 1971 on a bootleg compilation of rock 'n' roll rarities and eventually given an official re-release. In Mizell's absence, Pan's People cavort around a jungle made entirely of green plastic and tissue paper while dressed in khaki shirts and shorts - surely the least revealing costumes they were ever given - and carrying papier maché guns, with which to end the misery of the poor sods dressed in seemingly homemade animal suits which would have shamed the producers of Animal Kwackers.
John Miles - "Music" (#4)
As we're still in the early part of 1976, it seems reasonable that each show should have a "This is why punk happened" moment. In a nod towards Queen's then-recent Bohemian Rhapsody, Miles attempts to form a song out of a sensitive piano bit, a slightly faster rocking bit and, instead of the opera section, an overwrought string-laden middle section which to modern ears sounds oddly like the theme from Blake's 7. Then the fast bit comes back again before Miles squeezes out the high notes for the coda. Unlike Bo Rhap though, nobody could come up with more than four lines of lyrics.
Fox - "S-S-S-Single Bed"
When this appeared during the 2011 showing, Twitter almost collapsed under the weight of people simultaneously saying "It's the '70s Goldfrapp!" Glamorous lead singer Noosha Fox (not her real name, surprisingly), in hot pants and some kind of white cape that makes her look like a Daz-sponsored superhero, coos and purrs some suggestive lyrics while an army of badly-dressed male followers knock out an insistently funky backing. The lyrics in digest form: "I like you, thanks for coming back to my place but you can't sleep here because I've only got a single bed." Oh Noosha, you tease.
The Beatles - "Hey Jude" (#22)
So why were there three songs by the Fab Four in the chart? Because their EMI contract had expired, finally giving the label the rights to exploit the Beatles' back catalogue. The first thing EMI did was to reissue all twenty-two Beatles singles - plus a "new" one, Yesterday, which had not previously been released as a single in the UK. Of the 23 singles, Yesterday was the most successful, reaching its peak position of #8 in this week, but every one of them entered the top 100. The Fabs' other top thirty entry this week was Paperback Writer at #27, while Strawberry Fields Forever and Get Back were both hanging around inside the top fifty. Here we get a brief sepia-tinted clip of the original 1968 Hey Jude promo film, which Blackburn seems to think is from 1966.
Brotherhood Of Man - "Save Your Kisses For Me" (#1)
Yes, it's the archetypal Eurovision song - jaunty, syrupy, undemanding and performed by a male/female vocal group. Like the old "this broom is twenty years old, it's had seventeen heads and sixteen handles" joke, an entirely different line-up of Brotherhood Of Man had scored a hit with United We Stand in 1970. The line-up went on to win the Eurovision Song Contest for the UK two days after this episode's original broadcast, with their jaunty thumbs-in-belt-loops dance and schmaltzy "Oh, it's actually about his daughter!" pay-off.
The Drifters - "Hello Happiness" (#12)
We play out with soul legends The Drifters, enjoying their second wind having scored seven top ten hits in the 1970s compared to just one in the '60s. Reissues of Saturday Night At The Movies and Come On Over To My Place, minor hits in 1965, had both made the top ten in 1972, since when the group had charted strongly with Kissin' In The Back Row Of The Movies, Down On The Beach Tonight and There Goes My First Love. Although this particular hit peaked at number 12, they would score one further top ten hit, You're More Than A Number In My Little Red Book early in 1977.