Whole Lotta Pop

If Sunday was the worst time for television, the best was probably Thursday night because that was when Top of The Pops was on. At 7:20pm the nation’s youth gathered excitedly in front of the set to watch their pop heroes while their parents made snarky comments about them like “Is that a boy or girl?” It was the one show we all watched and talked about at school the next morning.

If you’re roughly the same age as me this record will bring those nights back like a Proustian biscuit because it was the TOTP theme music from 1970 to 1977 and probably still the one most associated with the show.

CCS (short for Collective Consciousness Society — heavy, man) were a group of session musicians led by Alexis Korner and produced by Mickie Most. I’m probably not the only one who knew their instrumental version of “Whole Lotta Love” for years before I ever heard the original.

It may anger the Rock Gods to say it, but I prefer this to the Led Zeppelin version. Having a flute instead of Robert Plant’s tight-trousered moaning helps it be less of a thrusting Cock Rock record. With that riff it can’t help but sound sexy, but with the brass and Hammond organ it sounds more go-go groovy and designed for Pan’s People to shake their hips to while wearing silver hot pants.

Download: Whole Lotta Love – CCS (mp3)

The Dead Zone

It rained all day here this past Sunday which is hasn’t done in a long time. There’s something about weather like that which makes you want to hunker down at home and do bugger all, which is pretty much what I did. It reminded me of the rainy weekends of my childhood (of which there were plenty in England) when you were stuck at home and almost crushed by boredom. The difference this time was that being an adult with a job and responsibilities I was more than happy to be doing nothing.

Having a black and white television with only three channels now seems like deprivation on a par with having an outside toilet, but our suffering was compounded by the lack of much to actually watch on Sundays either. This Radio Times listing for what was probably a wet Sunday in March 1972 is fairly typical for the nanny-like BBC at the time: Asian and Welsh news, programs about learning German and Tennis, a look at Swedish schools, and bloody Farming. (ITV wasn’t much better either). If that wasn’t bad enough, in the early evening we had the Government-mandated “God slot” when both channels showed religious programs and probably turned the whole country off God as a result.

Sometimes the BBC would show a decent old movie in the afternoon — Brief Encounter was one which I still think of as a “rainy Sunday” film — but mostly the day was a Dead Zone and I ended up exiled to my bedroom listening to the radio, reading comics, and drawing. When I got bored with doing that I just stared blankly out of the window at the gloomy sky, the lack of stimulation sending me into an almost dream-like state.

There was no point in braving the elements and going out either because everything was closed on a Sunday and, until the influx of Asian immigrants who took over the businesses in the mid-70s, this included local corner shops too. They’d open in the morning so you could get your Sunday paper but close at 12, so you were literally shit out of luck if you ran out of milk or bread. This might seem like a major inconvenience now, but I am a little nostalgic for Sunday closing because it was society stopping the wheels of capitalism for just one day and saying that commerce wasn’t the most important thing. That’s Communist talk now.

Having nothing to do has gone the way of the dinosaur now and there is stimulation at-hand anytime. When my kids say they’re bored I try to convince them that it’s good for the soul because it forces you to look inside yourself for inspiration and entertainment. But they just look at me like I’m crazy.

Download: The Day It Rained Forever – Nick Heyward (mp3)

Runaround now!

I loved this show so much when I was young, mostly for the way Mike Reid took the piss out of the kids. I remember him asking one if he got his hair cut at Sainsbury’s.

Lots of stamp collectors in this bunch. Bless.

This is one of the best singles by The Cardigans, from their 1998 album Gran Turismo.

Download: My Favourite Game – The Cardigans (mp3)

Something for the Weekend

Tony Christie must be thinking to himself “What the fuck am I doing in this dump?” He was too good for Wheeltappers, what a voice.

Something for the Weekend

This was originally a #3 UK hit in 1969 but did even better in 1988 when it topped the charts because of its use in an annoying Miller Lite commercial. Usually that can put you off a song forever and the fact that it didn’t (well, maybe for a little while) is a testament to how great the record is. It’s a bit sappy but those soaring harmonies get me every time.

Not sure why they were performing it on a TV chart show in 1975 though.

Picture Post

Won’t be doing doing much posting this week, I’m spending a few days lazing in a boat and having a smoke with Emma Peel*

Download: Sitting by the Riverside – The Kinks (mp3)

*Not really

To be young was very Heaven

This clip makes me so happy and I think everyone who reads this blog will get the same warm fuzzys from it. We can all feel the joy of these teens dancing so happily to a pop record, because that was us once upon a time.

Download: Lost In Music (1984 Bernard Edwards & Nile Rogers Remix) – Sister Sledge (mp3)

The TOTP audience was usually older and less “School Disco” than this lot, so I don’t know what’s going on here.

Funny Girl

This year is really taking the piss. I swear the death of Victoria Wood has upset me almost as much as Bowie did. She was one of the greatest comedy talents Britain has ever produced, but on a personal level she means a lot to me because my mother loved her and I have many happy memories of watching her TV shows with her. My mother could quote Victoria Wood lines the way I could with Monty Python in my teens, so I’m sad for more than just the loss of a great comedy writer and performer.

Though Wood made her name in the 1980s she existed outside of the London-centric, politically-edgy “Alternative” comedy crowd and created her own brilliant comedy universe. She was never as fashionable as them and, even though her humour could be cruelly accurate and cutting, she had a Northern working class warmth that made her less hip, but she was funnier and for longer.

She was also an influence on Morrissey, especially this song she wrote in 1978 which inspired parts of Rusholme Ruffians, and her “they didn’t know what drugs were” line in the intro may also sound familiar.

Download: Fourteen Again – Victoria Wood (mp3)

What’s it all about?

The sentimental musings of an ageing expat in words, music, and pictures. Mp3 files are up for a limited time so drink them while they're hot. Contact me: lee at londonlee dot com





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