Top Of The Pops - January to February 1970 [no label 1DVD PAL hungercity 5529]

Prog 1 Jan 29, 1970 with Blodwyn Pig, Arrival, Rare Bird, Jethro Tull, Shocking Blue, Badfinger, Jonathan King, Brotherhood of Man and Edison Lighthouse, B&W. Prog 2 Feb 5, 1970 with Shocking Blue, Barry Ryan, John Lennon, Billy Preston, Vanity Fair, Sandie Shaw, BJ Thomas and Edison Lighthouse, B&W. Video Ex-; Audio Ex SBD stereo. TT: 88m Fullscreen. The color tapes have disappeared and all that remains are these black and white copies. This comes from a recent digital rebroadcast on German TV.

Two more or less random (if consecutive) episodes of BBC TV’s flagship pop music show remind us why Top Of The Pops was such a vast influence on the course of British rock and pop through the 1960s, '70s and beyond. Where else, for example, are you going to find Blodwyn Pig, Mary Hopkin, Edison Lighthouse and Rare Bird lining up on the same half-hour program, while the Pans People dance troupe gyrate to a psychedelic recounting of Chicago’s “I’m A Man,” and Jethro Tull are introduced as a singular person, to leer and hop through “The Witches promise”? And that’s just program one. Programme two adds a Plastic Ono Band video (“Instant Karma”), Vanity Fayre and a Jackson Five dancing contest to the brew, while all around the fashion sense that time forgot is dragged screaming out of your memory banks, to place you once again in that magical era when people really did go out dressed like that.

The black and white picture lends piquant nostalgia, while sundry graphics and special effects remind us just what we lost when television started letting computers do all the creative work for them. And the whole thing is such a joy that I, for one, could spend the rest of the year watching reruns of this show. - Dave Thompson

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September 18, 2009