Thursday, December 11, 2008

Picture post

The best YouTube clips found in the name of Weekender filler this year:

The way things used to be

Oh Boy! (one, two, three) was television's first showcase for rock'n'roll, set up by the celebrated impresario Jack Good. In this, the entire last show from May 1959, there's an opening of the excellently named TV Hop, then Lord Rockingham's XI, a song called Let's Rock While The Rockin's Good, Dickie Pride, the Vernons Girls, Marty Wilde and Cliff Richard early in his British Elvis phase.

"We have always thought that it might be a good question to put to Mr Kenneth Dodd and the members of the Beatles to what extent do they attribute their success to their hairstyles." Ken pretty much takes the lead from there, but even in the first flushes of Beatlemania they were still just another branch of light entertainment, as also shown by their guest slot in Morecambe & Wise's first successful series, ITV vehicle Two Of A Kind from the same year. John attempts to outflank Eric, fails.

At Christmas 1965, the year that saw Help!, Shea Stadium, Rubber Soul and Yesterday, the big ITV spectacular was The Music Of Lennon & McCartney (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven), an attempt to equate their escalating fame with musical cabaret. Here we find the pair introducing the George Martin Orchestra, Henry Mancini, Marianne Faithfull, Peter Sellers doing his Richard IIIrd She Loves You, Lulu, Cilla Black, Esther Phillips, Peter & Gordon, Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, jazz organist Alan Haven, composer Fritz Spiegl and hordes of dancers.

What's on the other side? Ah, part two of the 1967 Top Of The Pops Christmas Special (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven). We join Jimmy Saville, Pete Murray and Alan Freeman start by recording a trail for what we're about to see, and what we then see is the Bee Gees, the Monkees in video form, the Rolling Stones with Brian Jones in a rakish hat, Long John Baldry, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Tich, Lulu (the ace, Jimmy Page-featuring Love Loves To Love Love), Scott Mackenzie, the Supremes, Cliff Richard, Procul Harum, the famed All You Need Is Love film and Engelbert Humperdinck.

Forward just a few years, to 1985, and a cub punk reporter attempts to call out Black Flag's Henry Rollins and Greg Ginn with, shall we say, limited success.

And from Engelbert to Black Flag to Five Star. They opened the last Pebble Mill At One (3:14) by showing us round the building to the tune of Can't Wait Another Minute. And by round the building, we include corridors, offices, canteen, scene dock, switchboard and gallery. The glamour of BBC Birmingham.

The things they do for publicity

And believe us, they always have. The Ramones were meant to be advertising The House Of Guitars in Rochester, New York, but instead appeal for viewers to buy Leave Home and Rocket To Russia.

Surprise television appearances are something we've always loved, especially if they're on kids TV, and we don't just mean Eels dressing up for CD:UK. Nickelodeon's Yo Gabba Gabba! was created by Christian Jacobs of oddball faux-superhero ska-punks The Aquabats (Blink 182's Travis Barker was once a member) and as such has his connections - Biz Markie, Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh and John Reis (Rocket From The Crypt, Hot Snakes, Drive Like Jehu, The Night Marchers) appear in occasional slots and they get the odd band in. Jimmy Eat World, the Shins and Cornelius (Cornelius!) have fallen victim to Viacom, but still hanging around is the not at all cloying sight of the former Dear Eskiimo, the Ting Tings, covering Altered Images. The other end of the spectrum is doing a grown-up song to a school assembly, as Mike Scott of the Waterboys tried, doing The Whole Of The Moon in Ireland in 1987 while wearing a visor.

Then there's the international chat show circut. Joan Rivers briefly hosted a Late Show rival for Fox in the mid-80s, with sitcom actress Suzanne Somers sitting in one week. That was the week they booked Wire to play the uncomfortable The Drill. Listen for that studio sound distortion and watch for Somers' meeting of minds with Bruce Gilbert. McLusky on German daytime television where producers here would have Donny Osmond or Katherine Jenkins is an eyeopener. How much do you suppose Falco really wants his photo taking at the end?

You did just hear that correctly

That just said, Mark E Smith did once appear on Top Of The Pops, even if the Inspiral Carpets had to smuggle him on. (Horribly letterboxed, we know.) That sort of thing can really get you on the wrong side of Andi Peters.

Reginald Bosanquet was main ITN anchor between 1974 and 1976, famous for his slurred delivery and alleged drinking habit. His Wikipedia entry contains the line "He also reached the headlines for breaking into his ex-wife's flat, an offence which got him thrown off the judging panel for Dustman of the Year 1975." In 1980, he made this... would 'song' be too kind? It's called Dance With Me, it was voted 'top' of Kenny Everett's Bottom 30 and it makes you wonder if the Disco Demolition people at Comiskey Park had a point.

And what more is there to possibly add to a choir of seventy New York fifth graders reinterpreting Chas & Dave?

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