“The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.”
They certainly do, as this clip from an edition of the longtime BBC music show Top of the Pops abundantly proves.
I was wondering how best to explain this bizarre clip, in which an evil kiddie-fiddling nonce, Sir Jimmy Savile, introduces the hit single to children’s TV series The Smurfs. The combination of these two unrelated things makes me feel queasy.
It starts with Savile interviewing Father Abraham, the stage of name of Dutch singer Pierre Kartner, who gained considerable success with “The Smurf Song.” The smarmy, reptilian Savile is full of the same fake charm he used to hood-wink a nation, before he introduces TOTP’s resident dance troupe, Legs and Co. (Gawd bless ‘em), who then interpret the The Smurf Song through the power of dance.
Sir Jimmy Savile was the world’s first disc jockey, spinning records on twin-turntables long before the twin decks became standard kit. Savile’s fame as a DJ ensured his later TV career, where the peroxide blonde freak made a career as TV and radio host on the BBC. At the same time, Savile was sexually abusing every girl, boy, man, woman (and probably dog) he could get his jingly-jangly hands on. Savile was like a modern Gilles de Rais. Surprisingly, after his death in 2011, a nation mourned his passing until stories of his sexual excess ruined his sainted reputation.
According to police estimates, there were an incredible 450 people abused by Savile. This figure may be as high as 1,350.
So, here, we have a moment of classic Seventies’ British telly. Not exactly Masterpiece Theatre, but one that shows how England’s greatest nonce hid in plain sight as a respected member of the British Establishment and as a much-liked (I can’t say “loved”) BBC entertainer.
I’ve had my share of weird trips but this one is certainly a dodgy tab of Smurf-flavored blotter acid!
OK, so this instalment of Cocaine’s... might not have the epic freak-out-ish-ness of last week’s John Cale performance, but to me this sums up the spirit of the cocaine age perfectly.
Godley & Creme were once part of 10CC, of course, and video directors of quite some renown in the 1980s, but they also delivered a string of haunting, emotional electro pop hits like this one, a tale of tragic spousal abuse as overheard on a commuter train.
What that has to do with sliding down a fake window while clenching your fists is anyone’s guess. But, like I said, cocaine’s a helluva drug.
This performance is epically camp, and was undoubtedly inspired by some of the finest marching powder. Kevin Godley tosses his mullet and gurns as if trapped in a lost Douglas Sirk classic, while all around bright shiny lights create a vaseline-heavy haze that will have you checking your eyeballs for cataracts. The tune is rather lovely, with synths that sound more like vintage 60s electronica than early 80s electro, but I can just hear the producer now, frothing at the mouth and screaming that what this needs is “MORE DRAMA!!!”
Godley & Creme “Under Your Thumb” Top Of The Pops, 1981:
This week a documentary called Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile will be broadcast in Britain on ITV1. The documentary centers on allegations made by 5 women against the DJ, and former Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix It presenter. It is claimed Sir Jimmy Savile committed acts of serious sexual assault, including rape, against girls as young as 12, whilst an employee of the BBC in the early 1970s.
The attacks are alleged to have taken place at various locations, including hotels, Savile’s Rolls Royce and at the Top of the Pops studio at BBC Television Center, which Savile is alleged to have described as a “happy hunting ground”..
A former detective, Mark Williams-Thomas carried out the TV investigation into the claims against Savile, in particular the presenter’s sexual activities at the BBC, which the program claims were an “open secret” at the BBC.
In response to the allegations which have appeared in various newspapers, the BBC issued a denial that it had investigated allegations of misconduct against Savile, but “no such evidence has been found.”
“Whilst the BBC condemns any of behavior of the type alleged in the strongest terms, in the absence of evidence of any kind found at the BBC that corroborates the allegations that have been made it is simply not possible for the corporation to take any further action.”
It’s the kind of bureaucratic doublespeak one expects form the BBC, which does not explain the fact some BBC employees were aware of Jimmy Savile’s sexual activities.
More on ‘Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile’, after the jump…
Noosha Fox is an Australian singer who, in the mid 1970s, fronted the British act Fox, who scored a handful of hits across Europe with their funk and reggae-influenced strain of glam-rock. After the band dissolved near the end of the decade, Noosha embarked on a moderately successful solo career; one of her tracks, “The Heat Is On”, ended up being covered by a solo Agnetha Faltskog of ABBA.
Fox’s tunes are great, and regularly entered high up on the British charts (as some of these clips will attest.) So how come I’d never heard of the fantastic Noosha until very recently?
Thanks to the website Lost Idols (and DM’s own Paul Gallagher,) here’s a bit more information on Noosha and the band:
The band was formed by Kenny Young (the man who got the credits for writing the song “Under the Boardwalk” for The Drifters in 1964). Lead singer of The Fox was Susan Traynor (from Australia) who earlier did backing vocals on Kenny Young’s solo album “Last Stage for Silverworld” in 1973 and also was in a band called “Wooden Horse”. The rest of the band included Herbie Armstrong (guitar and vocals), Pete Solley (keyboards), Jim Gannon (lead guitar), Gary Taylor (bass guitar) and Jim Frank (drums & percussion). Kenny Young played guitars, percussion and vocals. Susan became known as Noosha Fox and their first album “FOX” was a top ten hit in 1975.
It appears that Roger Taylor of ‘Queen’ added backing vocals to the track ‘Survival’ on Fox’s ‘Tails of Illusion’ album. Queen were in the same studio recording ‘A Night at the Opera’.
What happened then?
Noosha Fox (Susan Traynor), had a solo career when she left the band (1977) during the late 70s and early 80’s. She only had one minor hit with “Georgina Bailey”. Herbie Armstrong and Kenny Young moved on to a band called Yellow Dog and later Armstrong worked with Van Morrison in the late 70’s and early 80’s.Kenny Young has been working as a Record producer. Now Herbie is running a Restaurant together with his Swedish-born wife Elizabeth, in Hampshire called The Fountain Inn & Thai Restaurant. the rumour says they combine their talents in running one of the best eating places in the area.
Pete Solley joined Whitesnake on keyboards in 1977 for Snakebite. He’s also played with Procol Harum, Mickey Jupp and many more. He has also produced records for Oingo Boingo, Motorhead and Romantics. Jim Frank worked as an sound engineer for Alice Cooper (“Welcome to my nightmare”) and Peter Gabriel’s first solo album to mention a few. Jim Gannon played with the band “Black Widow” and also did some vocals on Alice Cooper “Goes To Hell”.
Not bad post-pop careers there, not bad at all.
Fox are one of those acts who have been unfairly booted into history’s dumpster, casualties of a cultural shift that saw extravagant glam rock relegated to just an embarrassing phase. Although undoubtedly an influence on a whole generation’s burgeoning sexuality (check out the YouTube comments on any of her/their clips,) ask anyone under the age of 40 who Noosha Fox is and you’ll get a blank stare and an itchy scalp.
That’s a real shame, because Noosha and her band were fantastic. With her very distinctive look and sound (silent-cinema star and pinched-nose temptress, respectively) Noosha Fox predated the far-out kookiness of Kate Bush by a good four years, and seems to have been a huge influence on the band Goldfrapp, who have basically re-interpreted her look and sound for the electronic age.
Of course, maybe Fox passed me by because I am not a child of the Seventies. If any of our readers have any memories of the great band/singer, do feel free to share them in the comments. In the meantime (while I try and track down a “best of” album,) here are a selection of Noosha and Fox clips:
Fox “S-S-S-Single Bed”
After the jump, more music by Noosha and Fox, including “Imagine You, Imagine Me”, “Electro People”, “The Heat Is On” and more…
As if it wasn’t weird enough that Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” got to number 2 on the British charts in 1981, here’s a really strange dance routine by Zoo from Top Of The Pops to accompany the vocodered, beatless wonder. YouTube uploader Sambda says:
“A spectacularly bad dance routine. An extreme example of “Top Of The Pops” choreographer Flick Colby’s habit of taking all lyrics (including obvious allegories) at face value. So we have to have a judge, a mom-and-dad etc. I suspect the only reason Superman himself didn’t appear was down to a rights issue.”
I think he may be onto something. It’s also worth watching for Peter Powell’s bizarre chain-mail sweater at the start:
Laurie Anderson - “O Superman” Top Of The Pops 1981
I just thought I’d put up a few under-viewed clips of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark performing on Top Of The Pops in the early 80s—why the hell not? I know we have a few fans lurking out there amongst the readers (and writers) and these could do with a few more views. I have a confession to make though—OMD pretty much passed me by until very recently. I dunno why that is to be honest. Maybe it’s the glut of other early synth bands from the same period whose back catalogs I was more urgent to check out. Maybe it’s my vague hazy childhood memories of the band being that they were not particularly cool. Maybe it’s the connections I can see now between OMD and the haunted Ariel Pink/John Maus sound casting the band in a new light. Whatever. I don’t wanna question it too much. I just wanna enjoy:
OMD - “Souvenir” (live on TOTP)
OMD - “Messages” (live on TOTP)
After the jump “Genetic Engineering”, “Joan Of Arc” and “Maid Of Orleans”