Pick of the Pops 72 (16.7.77)

Fleetwood Mac - Dreams

Everything about the cover of Rumours suggested keep away; from its beigey/creamy/ochrey colouring  to Stevie '3 for a pound'* Nicks's hippy 'gypsy' dress, to Rick from Fingerbobs lookalike Mick Fleetwood's symbolic balls dangling both merrily and disgustingly from his Mummers' play get up. The music was stodgy as well, from the ghastliness of The Chase to any number of washing-your-dirty-pants-in-public songs, to the nonsense and just plain factual wrongness of this track (thunder doesn't always happen when it's raining, so-called Stevie Nicks**). I didn't fight in two punk wars to have the youth of today proudly proclaiming their love of 'The Mac', and saying how much Rumours inspired them (the musicians interviewed on Steve Lamacq's excellent weekly one hour 6 Music Fix programme are particularly wont to do this). Having said all that, Songbird is a particularly lovely song, and I have many happy memories of Go Your Own Way being played as the unofficial half-time anthem of every team playing in the Non-League pyramid (from League 6 and downwards).

But remember, kids, half-remembered anecdotes and personal memories should never cloud one's judgement or the pursuit of a greater, universal truth; after all, Hitler was both a vegetarian and kind to his dog - and what a cunt he was.

And Rumours is shit!


*Top of Breck Road, July 1983; also 'sports sox' - five for a pound!

**Real name Stephen Knickers.

"..."we made so much money from Rumours that she could afford to pay someone to blow cocaine up her starfish!" (Mick Fleetwood tells the Fleetwood Mac story on HBO's Fleetwood Mac - The Fleetwood Mac Story.)

ELO - Telephone Line

The Farmfoods Fabs flooded 1975-79 with their pop-that-appeals-to-an-adult-market (think Clarkson/Partridge/most of the UK) and their unthreatening singalong, well-crafted albums could be found in millions of homes, despite there being a world of much better, more fulfilling and much more spiritual music 'out there'.

Jeff Lynne said that John Lennon told him that The Beatles would be making music that sounded like ELO had they still been extant, and as McCartney was ruining his legend with the worst of Wings and Lennon was either doing eff all or hatching the project that was the human stool-like Double Fantasy, maybe he had a point.

String-backed driving gloves music. 3/10

That dog that looks like Jeff Lynne. 

Queen - Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy

One of two almost 1920s-influenced young-romantic-at-heart hits in the Top 20 this week. Queen eschew their usual bombast and overkill for this rather delicate and almost sweet little number. Liverpool's commercial radio station Radio City once decided that a talk programme featuring Everton's Duncan McKenzie and Liverpool's John Toshack would be a good idea. The resultant programme, the excellently-titled Mac n' Tosh (the title may have preceded the idea) failed on a number of grounds: firstly  both players were sold quite quickly into their broadcasting debuts and tenure; secondly, Toshack (my phone just autocorrected this to 'Toshiba'), though an obviously likeable fellow, was as about as interesting as a The One Show compilation DVD, and unfortunately the 'maverick', beautiful, genius footballer McKenzie sounded like Custard the Cat from Roobarb.

Anyway, in the days before the Internet, I used to audio tape things from the radio AND the telly (the last two episodes of The Prisoner being a particular high/lowlight) and somewhere I have the none-too-dulcet, Kermit the Frog tones of Duncan McKenzie (factually inaccurately) declaring "That's the latest from Freddie and the boys" on a C90 in a shoebox in my attic.

Sad - on so many levels; particularly the third level (where my attic is located).


John Miles - Slow Down

Best known for the appalling, pretentious and downright twatty Music, this performer is also famous for the lack of prudence when choosing a showbiz name.

In certain circles (particularly localised, down below) John Miles is THE go-to rhyming slang for haemorrhoids, which is both unfortunate and ironic, seeing how John had changed his original family surname of Bumbrapes to escape from this particularly cruel twist of fate. 2/10

John Bumbrapes (as was) - an unlikely Look-in cover star - what with being a curious hybrid of Patrick McGoohan, Ron Atkinson and Scottish weirdo/hardcase actor Roddy McMillan, an' all.

Barbra Streisand - Evergreen (Theme From A Star is Born)

Those A Star is Borns in, er, full...

1. Janet Gaynor/Frederick March - OK

2. Judy Garland/James Mason - ace

3. Barbara Windsor/Kris Kristofferson - a bit wool

4. Gaga/Bradley Walsh - tremendous

I've got a few albums by Barbra (obviously), but she's difficult to warm to, and I was watching a bit of The Way We Were the other night and thinking: "You did well to cop off with him, Babs - he's a good looking lad".

Or maybe I said it out loud. It's difficult to tell these days.

Anyway, the song - it's a bit Beverley from Abigail's Party's idea of romantic/sensual, but it's probably the best thing about the film (which looked dated even before it was released), and therefore, that's not saying much. 5/10

A promotional shot from 1976's A Star is Born: evidently nobody had the courage to tell them.

Detroit Emeralds - Feel the Need in Me

A good song from an underrated group. 7/10

Alessi - Oh Lori

Not the coolest act to be praising, but a lovely and effortlessly charming love song.

I particularly like the simple caesura in the opening lines:

I'd like to stay in love with you,

All summer;

And after fall,

I'll keep you warm -

Through the winter.


No, you fuck off.


Doug and Dinsdale Alessi - why bother with one Fonz when you can have three!

Brotherhood of Man - Angelo

Much as I like the chutzpah of the BOM songwriters simply stealing all of Abba's ideas and then clunkily reassembling them for a British audience, this is an awful record.

Not hateful, mind. Just crap.

On a much, much worse note, I can never quite get Richard Stilgoe's hilarious, spoonerist parody* Motherhood of Bran out of my mind.

*Circa 1977: my teenage years - I should have been out fighting with the local ne'er-do-wells, or sniffing glue, or forming a punk band,  or having unprotected sex using a Space Raiders packet and an elastic band as a makeshift prophylactic, but no, I was 'sitting in' - watching Richard bastard Stilgoe being hilarious and doing spoonerist parodies of Brotherhood of Man on fucking 'Nationwide'. 0/10

1977: The Filth and the Fury! And Richard Stilgoe stealing Eddie Braben's excellent Morecambe and Wise Show/Australian fast bowler joke  'Lillian Thompson' for his hilarious Australian fast bowler comedy song 'Lillian Thompson'.

Sex Pistols - Pretty Vacant

Fantastic. A youthful howl of rage and disenchantment from one of Britain's greatest poets.


Anyone else think that Inman and Sugden look quite good here?

The Jacksons - Let Me Show You The Way to Go

What a great record - sadness, yearning and a beautiful melancholy feel made this a deserved number one. 10/10

Gladys Knight and the Pips - Baby Don't Change Your Mind

And this. A powerful, complex, adult emotion expressed through what appears to be a simple, catchy, singalong song.

That's the beauty of great pop music. Gladys Knight's finest moment. 10/10

A flyer for the Roxy/Bowie night at Pips*, Manchester.

*[Stentorian V.O.]: "It's behind the cathedral." (Shame on you - plus a bag of Werther's and an artificial hip  replacement if you remember this.)

Boney MMa Baker

From the sublime to the ridiculous.

Obviously, not everything can be great, but it doesn't have to be this bad. I've never understood why the writers of this terrible song changed the name of Ma Barker to Ma Baker. I doubt if there would have been legal injunctions from MB's descendants. Perhaps it was a tribute to the late, rolypoly British funnyman, Ronnie? 

And though I reckon Mr Barker's Norman Stanley Fletcher is perhaps the greatest, best-acted comedy creation in British sitcom history, I've still not managed to get through more than ten or fifteen minutes of The Two Ronnies without losing the will to live.

(Says he, who sat through innumerable editions of Nationwide.)

On a different, more serious note, my mother always reckoned that Boney M's non-singing, lone male performer Bobby Farrell "had worms" because of his frenetic, hyperactive persona.


Boney M's Bobby Farrell: "Worms."

Donna Summer - I Feel Love

More German-influenced MOBO, but this is just fantastic.

I Feel Love is probably the greatest and most influential of any single in the 1970s, and if the Sex Pistols were responsible for inspiring young people to think, and to reject the ridiculous, shackling beliefs and practices of their elders and British society at large, then Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder encouraged a generation to make better sounds and better music to herald and usher in the future.

A fucking brilliant record that just refuses to age.


Wilson, Kepple and Betty - Fanfare For The Common Man

How come Crosby, Nash, Stills and Young doesn't sound anywhere as horrible as Emerson, Lake and Palmer? I ike the synthesised brass opening chords of FFTCM, and (as a boy) I liked the vastness of the Montreal Olympic stadium in the breath-freezing air of a Canadian winter - as seen on the video. But - despite not being dead - I'm sure Aaron Copland was spinning at great speed when he heard the bass 'kick in', and the various posings, noodlings and Jazz Odyssey-style soloing of the next four minutes or so of this why-punk-had-to-happen slice of awfulness.  4/10

Hot Chocolate - So You Win Again

Its effect has been dimmed by advertising use, but a good song from Errol and the guys - albeit an unlikely number one amongst such sterling competition.



Gambaccini in '77 - sporting a Rumours t-shirt, and surrounded by ELO and Rahd Stoo-wahrrt albums (along with the soundtrack to A Star is Born).

That Damned album ain't gonna be played any time soon.

Gambaccini - chose Dreams as his not-in-the-top-20 wildcard (even though Strawberry Letter 23 was perched at number 35), but not up to his usual dreadfulness: 5/10

Programme as a whole: ace. 9/10

Best: Donna Summer is the best, but she was 'linked' last year, so I'm going with the Pistols.

Worst: nothing hateful this week.

Next week: 1983

Click on the link to hear the song...