Top of the Pops versus American Bandstand*

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by VinylPhool, Nov 25, 2021 at 11:26 AM.

  1. VinylPhool

    VinylPhool If my cat likes it, the SQ must be good! Thread Starter

    Location:
    NY
    Can’t fix it now. I meant the title to be Top of the Pops versus American Bandstand. Maybe a gort can help.

    I Wish There Was Cable and Satellite TV in the 70’s was another title I thought of - and that my parents would have had the means to afford it. This is not a sarcastic statement. Yes, from what I have seen of the few samples I have watched on YouTube, TOTP could get VERY cheesy indeed. But even at its very worst, TOTP was far more interesting than American Bandstand. Case in point - Lieutenant Pigeon would never, under any circumstances, have been featured on American Bandstand. Even if they had a Billboard charting hit here. AB was very vanilla and super mainstream. I found 4 episodes from the 70’s - 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976. I found some music that was as bad as the costumes were to be sure, but I found some treasures too. I learned who Kenny Everett was. I saw Slade twice, T Rex lip synching to Metal Guru, Status Quo twice, Steve Harley and the Cockney Rebels, a band called Mud that I have never heard of, I mean some really great music. In my case I do not care about the lip synching, though some of it was reputed to have live vocals. Just to see Slade and T Rex in the early 70’s alone is worth wading through rivers of schlock. Yeah, and can’t forget Pan’s Dancers all in red dancing to “Ghetto Child” by the Detroit Spinners!

    I feel deprived!
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021 at 11:47 AM
  2. Patanoia

    Patanoia Third Ear Centre

    Location:
    Grapevine, TX
    I turned 10 in 1973, and watched Top of the Pops religiously. What a time to be alive! Mud were one of my favorites, along with Suzi Quatro, Alvin Stardust, the Glitter Band, and the other glam rock acts. And they acted as gateway drugs to Roxy Music, Bowie and Lou Reed. Yes, we had to endure some awful schmaltz (St. Winifred's School Choir) but it was a wonderful mix.
     
  3. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham
    It's funnu. Top of the Pops was important when I was younger. Plenty of crap on it, but look at the charts during anyb period and it's the same. I always thought it odd that the British Independent channel, ITV, never took rock/pop as seriously as even this for many a year: their music programmes were on just in time for the kids coming back from school, though the artists were pretty much the same as on Top of the Pops. In fact, I seem to remember Marc Bolan had his oiwn 'tea-time' TV show. I think Roy Wood did too - or maybe it was his girlfriend of the time, Ayshea. Looking back at the shows now, they're pretty awful - and that's without the hindisight about certain presenters, but as a 14 year-old...
     
  4. Patanoia

    Patanoia Third Ear Centre

    Location:
    Grapevine, TX
    I have fond memories of "Supersonic" on ITV, but apparently it only ran for two years. I can only find this Benny Hill send-up on YouTube but it seems pretty accurate.

     
  5. Alf.

    Alf. Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    I started watching TOTP in 1969. My enthusiasm flagged around '74, because the charts were becoming so dire, but picked up again when punk broke through. After the early '80s though I couldn't stand the damn show. The producer of the time decided it needed to be paaarty-central; all that inane whooping, 'professional' dancers, and those bloody balloons everywhere. From then on I'd only watch it occasionally, until giving up altogether in the mid-'90s.

    Apart from John Peel, Kid Jensen, and Janice Long - who all genuinely seemed to like music - many of the DJs were 'showbiz' nitwits. And then, of course, there was Savile (plus his pal Glitter, and an assortment of others), who we now know used TOTP as a base to exploit vulnerable youngsters. Ironic that the show wouldn't play certain chart records because they were deemed 'offensive', whilst at the same time turning a blind eye to child abuse.
     
  6. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Next time...need help? Hit the REPORT button. :)
     
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  7. Frip

    Frip Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    I've never seen American bandstand. But I believe they used to invite all sorts on, whereas TOTP required you to have a current top 40 hit single to perform. Even Bowie got filmed at not broadcast when his song didn't quite make it.

    I wonder to what extent that meant AB viewers sitting through a lot of dross, or through a lot of well-chosen music that deserved exposure, but hadn't yet become popular.
     
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  8. NekoM

    NekoM Forum Resident

    Location:
    Huntington Beach
    TOTP every time. The BBC iPlayer is constantly changing episodes they’re rerunning.
     
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  9. egebamyasi

    egebamyasi Forum Resident

    Location:
    Worcester, MA
    Bandstand in the seventies was cheese. Not sure about the sixties.


    This ran for a couple years on US Saturday morning TV. It was amazing to this 12 year old kid.
     
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  10. VinylPhool

    VinylPhool If my cat likes it, the SQ must be good! Thread Starter

    Location:
    NY
    I had to look up Savile. Did not know who he was. They’re 100% right to never repeat his episodes.
     
  11. Evethingandnothing

    Evethingandnothing Forum Resident

    Location:
    Devon
    At no point was TOTP ever not crap. Sometimes it was great too though and you'd watch it every week just for those moments.
     
  12. rl1856

    rl1856 Forum Resident

    Location:
    SC
    "It's got a great beat ! You can dance to it!" AB reflected US Top40 radio charts, and was designed to promote preferred artists and songs. Dick Clark productions had a surprising level of financial involvement with many of the artists who appeared on his show. In the mid 60s, the US also had Hullabaloo, and the Smothers Brothers show; both featured more cutting edge and early counterculture bands. TOTP was run by the BBC, and while I am sure money changed hands, I got the impression that being featured on the show had more to do with success or selection by someone like John Peel than old fashioned Payolla. Regardless- TOTP was in the right place so to speak, by being associated with the British Invasion in the 60's, then early punk/new wave in the late 70s. The US (and AB) were behind on both. Tangentially related is Soul Train, which was created as a black/urban version of AB. It was very influential in promoting black music in the US, from the early 70's to the early 90's.

    YoutTube has a treasure trove of video from Hullaballo, and Soul Train for those interested in non AB broadcasts.
     
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  13. VinylPhool

    VinylPhool If my cat likes it, the SQ must be good! Thread Starter

    Location:
    NY
    I think that what makes TOTP infinitely more interesting probably came down to the tastes of the UK public versus the US public in the early to mid 70’s. I guess the UK public was more accepting of truly far out music than the US. No way would US kids be dancing to Mouldy Dough on national TV at any point in time. BTW I love that footage. The parrot on top of Hilda’s piano is priceless. And I am not mocking it. Part of British humor, I have noted in my limited exposure to it, is that there are no boundaries when it comes to the presentation of the absurd in a perfectly serious way. Like the Pythons. I get the inside joke of “hey look at what I just got away with on TV!”

    It’s a wonderful thing that we have the luxury in 2021 of being able to fast forward through the horrid and the ghastly to get to the great parts.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021 at 12:42 PM
  14. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product

    I think most of these kinds of shows were the same.
    In Australia we had Countdown on the ABC, and it was a somewhat similar formula, but on Countdown they did play songs that weren't hits.
    It was mainly videos, and mimed performances in front of the kids in the studio, but also had segments about new releases, and Ian "Molly" Meldrum would get some pretty big interviews.

    Like all of these types of shows you would get a lot of crud, but when you're 10-12 that would be defined quite differently than when you're 30-40....

    Often it was guest hosts that could make the show really interesting.
    John Lydon hosting and being his objectionable self.
    Iggy Pop being on the show, blasted out of his brain.
    Tommy Shaw hosted once, and in a rare live in the studio moment made me a fan, by playing Styx Boat On The River solo on the mandolin.

    Countdown was great for giving Aussie bands some much needed exposure, back when even in Aus they were pretty much ignored....

    I would give the award ever so slightly to Countdown, because it seems like it was a little more diverse than TOTP and Bandstand, of which I have only seen a few episodes of each, but based on those, Countdown wins.
     
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  15. tonyballz

    tonyballz Roogalator

    Location:
    arizona
    In hindsight, American Bandstand was incredibly bland but so were the US charts in the mid-late 1970s. I still watched it religiously every Saturday morning because it was basically all we had (along with Soul Train of course). And say what you will about Dick Clark being Wonder Bread or whatever, at least he wasn't a creep like Jimmy Savile.
     
  16. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    As I've said in other places, I wonder if Benny Hill knew what kind of you-know-what Savile was, given how he portrayed him in his B&W 1971 TOTP parody:

    Only hinting at Savile's dark side, not going all-out.

    Conversely, the British kids seemed not to take to Sammy Davis Jr.'s "The Candy Man" or Clint Holmes' "Playground In My Mind," dinnay?

    But it's not simply, on the U.S. side, AB to which any and all comparisons to and contrasts with TOTP could be made. There's also American Top 40 after 1970, though (as they all say) that's only radio. But then - just as important a document in its own way.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021 at 2:19 PM
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  17. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    One of the key punk/post-punk acts that did Clark's music show was Public Image Ltd., in 1980 (speaking of John Lydon):

    Here, you could get to see a few shots of the Norelco PC-70's in use then at ABC's Prospect and Talmadge studios in Hollywood, before they were replaced with Ikegami HK-312C's.
     
  18. john lennonist

    john lennonist There ONCE was a NOTE, PURE and EASY...

    Bloody 'ell !

    Where did you Yanks receive Top of the Pops?

    My local channels had Bandstand, Soul Train, Midnight Special... but I don't ever remember seeing (or hearing anything from my friends) about Top of the Pops.
     
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  19. dwilpower

    dwilpower Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow Scotland
    ITV in the 60s had the iconic Ready Steady Go on Friday at tea time. It was a live show (although not reworked and broadcast at different times across some regions) It ran from §963 to 1966. A few episodes remain and clips can be seen on You Tube. The RSG Motown Special with Dusty Springfield is a classic episode and is also on You Tube, sadly the James Brown Special got wiped. TOTPs was the a firm fave from 1964. It was based solely on the UK singles chart featuring only climbers, new entries breakers new releases and the current No1. Few episodes from the 60s and early 70s survive. From a 2021 perspective these shows are pretty crass and have a hand knitted quality when compared to the sophisticated production values we expect today. The few episodes I've seen of American Bandstand didn't impress me- during the 70s the BBC had a deal with Dick Clark and on many occasions US artists Bandstand performances were used on TOTPs to promote a hit record in those far off pre promo video days. They had a similar agreement with Don Cornelius and Soul Train. There is a great Benny Hill skit from the 60s where he does a RSG! take
     
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  20. dwilpower

    dwilpower Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow Scotland
    You Tube...
     
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  21. duggan

    duggan Forum Resident

    Location:
    sydney
    I think Countdown suffered through geographic location.

    So many major acts were located in London or thereabouts. fewer in Melbourne.
     
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  22. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    Prior to 1969 and the establishment of an "official" chart with the BMRB compiling, TOTP based their chart positionings on what were called "average" charts compared against all the UK charts of the time. The 15 February 1968 edition, for example, among those whose chart positions differed, had most from NME, three from Melody Maker, and two from Record Retailer, plus another which occupied the same position in both MM and NME.
     
  23. VinylPhool

    VinylPhool If my cat likes it, the SQ must be good! Thread Starter

    Location:
    NY
    That clip was beyond genius. I saw a lot of Benny Hill reruns on PBS in the early 80’s. Watching this, I believe Benny Hill knew exactly what was going on. But he was a very savvy businessman and he knew just how far he could go without being sued and having his career destroyed. But, we will never really know.

    Watching some June 1977 TOTP on YouTube right now. The diversity of music is jarring in a very good way. Unfathomable on American radio and TV in that era. I mean, Andy Gibb and ELP back to back in the same episode? I just saw The Stranglers, Queen, Kermit the Frog, Bob Marley and Archie Bell and the Drells in the same episode. If I saw Bob Marley at age 10 in 1977 it would have changed my life. I had no exposure to reggae until much later.

    BTW - The Archie Bell and the Drells footage was nicked from Soul Train! Late in the song, Archie says “Let’s see what the Soul Train gang can do with this!”
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021 at 4:35 PM
  24. VinylPhool

    VinylPhool If my cat likes it, the SQ must be good! Thread Starter

    Location:
    NY
    Never knew about it either. Only because of YouTube have I seen any episodes.
     
  25. Dandelion1967

    Dandelion1967 My Favourite Parks Are Car Parks

    Neither one nor the other, I'll go with Ready Steady Go!

     

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