In 1978 two songs (there may have been more) that mentioned Top of the Pops were performed on Top of the Pops. Producer Robin Nash said it was nice to be remembered even if it was irony. Dublin band the Boomtown Rats located their song ‘Rat Trap’ in their native city, where watching Top of the Pops was like literally witnessing a foreign land. In ‘Rat Trap’ little Judy is trying to Top of the Pops but is disturbed by her parents’ arguing. Rock and Pop music in the 1970s was not synonymous with Irish youth.
The song that invoked Top of the Pops most clearly was ‘Everybody’s on Top of the Pops’ by Scottish group The Rezillos. Singer Faye Fife was lucid on the TOTP Story of 1978 admitting that the song was poking fun at the show rather than honouring it. The band were a fantastic glam amalgam of sixties retro-chic/kitsch, pop smarts and all round good fun. I never saw them in their early days, although it should be remembered that they were one of the first ‘new wave’ bands to visit Ireland. Indicating the paucity of live venues at the time they played the Liberty Hall venue. Unions and Punk Rock…the unexpected relationship! Vox Magazine had a good interview with the band who sounded positive despite the violence at the gig. Sadly that was almost expected at the new wave gigs during the era.
I did catch them in the Blackpool Rebellion Festival a couple of years ago and they were incredible. One of the best acts I have seen there. The songs were sharp, tight and energetic. And the band looked like they were having a good time. Really punchy performance. Really memorable performance. Highly recommended.
A couple of interesting facts about the Rezillos:
Early member Jo Callis later joined the Human League where he enjoyed lots of success.
Another early member, David Smythe has a really good section on his website about his involvement with the band. He also has some great information about nuclear power and climate change which are his areas of expertise!
The band were signed by Sire Records who had the Ramones and Talking Heads and toured with the Ramones.
They opened for the Stranglers in Glasgow in 1977.
They were probably the first Scottish ‘new wave’ band to release a single!
I love this quote from David. It sums up what I have always maintained about the music industry. Few things happen by accident. The people who work the hardest and who get co-operation by enthusiastic supporters often make the greatest progress.
“In hindsight, the early success over the next seven or eight months was due to hard work, brilliant art-school publicity, no drugs or groupies, and good organisation. We had enthusiastic volunteers like Alpin Ross-Smith who ran the sound system, and roadies who worked just for the free beer.”
Check out these links for some more insight into the career of one of the most unique bands of the era.