Friday, 6 November 2015

I'd Rather be Back in the 70s

70s Mug (Courtesy:

Another Preamble: This should have been post number two and was the second to be written, but it got forgotten in the process of building a series of early drafts in Notepad++. I still do not know how to insert a missing post into the correct place in WordPress.

After the dispiriting peak time shows of the main stations, BBC 1’s Strictly Come Dancing and ITV’s The X-Factor, came Yesterday’s Sounds of the Seventies, a BBC compilation series in six parts from their archives. This evening’s show was episode four and what a show it was. Clip one was of Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull miming to their third and final top ten single The Witch’s Promise on Top of the Pops in 1970. As the seventies dawned, all remained fab and groovy in the BBC studio with girls in mini skirts dancing as though this were Pickety Witch, not a mellotron-infused progressive rock mini-masterpiece. Ian Anderson gave a display of careless lip-synching, mainly due to his preoccupation with pulling ‘country bumpkin’ facial expressions. JT were followed in the original compilation by Deep Purple’s Black Night, also from Top of the Pops, but alas it was later removed by BBC 4(1) and Yesterday saw no reason for its re-installation. But not to worry, Free mimed to their most famous hit single All Right Now also on Top of the Pops in 1970. Amidst the dodgy barnets, even dodgier facial hair and offensively tight jeans, the band managed to convey, albeit through mime, the raw power of the song. By contrast, Yes played Yours is No Disgrace from their legendary Sounding Out appearance in early 1972, giving a dazzling display of virtuosity and dynamics. What I thought was a blond dancing girl in red, turned out to be Rick Wakeman looking remarkably feminine and impossibly young!

There was no miming on The Old Grey Whistle Test and Focus gave a barnstorming performance of Sylvia from the show in 1972. Blues producer Mike Vernon saw Jan Akkerman as the next guitar hero, in the tradition of Peter Green and Eric Clapton, but Akkerman left the band and it was not to be. Weirdly, the weird Captain Beefheart’s performance of the unremarkable Upon The My-O-My, from the OGWT 1974, remained intact. My favourite clip is of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s version of Delilah (OGWT 1975), during which bassist Chris Glen could not help laughing at the lead singer’s serenading of three shop window mannequins before joining guitarist Zal Cleminson in a comedy dance routine. From Cleminson’s clown make-up, through Glen and Harvey’s comic book outfits to the waltz riff from hell, it was and remains a marvel to behold. Dr Feelgood closed out the programme with an intense Roxette (OGWT 1975), while the theme for the end credits was Led Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll.

Sounds of the Seventies was so enjoyable, I should look forward to the next episode, but I fear Episode 5 will be predominantly the pop or disco of groups like Cockney Rebel and Boney M.

A grand total of 24 items of spam in my folder today. Apparently, attractive singles are waiting to meet me. Yahoo leaks this rubbish like a sieve and it is not the only drawback with their service, but I feel reluctantly tied to them having had the account since 2001.

(1) The editing of Sounds of the Seventies for BBC 4 is debated on the Missing Episodes forum. The irony here being that, before BBC4’s editing, Episode 4 was originally sub-titled Free to be Me. Here is a link:


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