Friday, 6 May 2016

392 Juke Box Jury

First  viewed : 16  June  1979

This  show  has  had  three  separate  iterations. For  most  of  the  sixties  it  was  a  Saturday  night  staple  with  a  panel  of  four,  mainly  drawn  from  the  music  business,  giving  their  views  of  whether  a  record  would  be  a  hit  or  miss  after  hearing  a  brief  snatch  of  it. To  add  spice,  the  artists  behind  one  of  the  records  would  be  in  the  studio  and  would  come  on  after  the  panel  had  given  its  verdict.  This  simple  formula  remained  for  all  three  versions.

The  original  series, hosted  by  David  Jacobs  ran  from  1959  to  1967  when  the  musical  shift   towards  albums  and  problems  caused  by  discussing  records  with  blatant  drug  references  led  to  its  cancellation.

When  punk  revitalised  the  7  inch  single , a  revival  of  the  show  followed  in  1979  with  the  ubiquitous  Noel  Edmunds  replacing  Jacobs  in  the  chair.  Pete  Murray  who  was  on  the  very  first  panel  and  had  occasionally  stood  in  for  Jacobs  appeared  on  the  panel  in  the  first  episode.  Some  of  the  panellists  were  strange  choices  like  Joan  Collins  and  swimmer  David  Wilkie . I  watched  it   religiously   apart  from  a  couple  of  weeks  when  I  was  on  holiday. Unfortunately  that  included  the  most  infamous  episode  where  a  certain  Mr  Lydon  appeared  and  drew  a  predictable  number  of  complaints. He  didn't  actually  swear  but  was  his  usual  rude  , acerbic  self   tersely  dismissing  records  with  comments  like  "rubbish"  and  "that's  awful"  to  the  delight  of  the  studio  audience. Edmunds  chastised  him  for  not  offering  much  "well-balanced  criticism "  ,  Alan  Freeman  told  him  to  "Shut up "  which  was  odd  considering  he  hadn't  said  very  much   and  Elaine  Paige  sitting  next  to  him  looked  scared  to  death. The  moment  I  recall  best  from  the  episodes  I  did  catch  was  Jonathan  King  in  that  ridiculous  wig  hiding  behind  the  desk  when  Black  Lace  came  on  after  royally  rubbishing  them.

I don't  think  the  programme  had  much  impact  on  the  actual  chart. I  remember  Dollar's  Love's  Got  A  Hold  On  Me    getting  a  real  mauling  and  then  it  making  the  Top  5.

The  Edmunds  version  didn't  return  for  a  second  season   and  the  series  remained  dormant  until  April  1989  when  Arena  ran  a  special  one-off  edition  with  Jacobs  in  the  chair  ( and  Murray  again  on  the  panel ).  It  was  notable  for  Roland  Gift  surprising  Dusty  Springfield  as  the  mystery  guest  after  she'd  said  she  had  a  crush  on  him.

Reaction  to  the  programme  proved  so  positive  that  the  BBC  commissioned  a  series  though  it  was  Jools  Holland  that  got  the  presenting  job. Housed  on  a  weird  set  that  looked  like  the  "Aladdin's  Cave"  room  on  Crimewatch,  the  series  was  now   more  of  a  roughly  edited  light  entertainment  programme  than  a  musical  discussion  show  with  the  panel  usually  featuring  at  least  one  comedian. In  any  case,  the  nature  of  the  music  business  had  changed  so  much  by  that  time  that  a  high  placing  in  the  singles  chart  signified  little  more  than  effective  marketing   and  the  views  of  a  celebrity  panel  on  whether  or  not  it  would  be  achieved  were  more  irrelevant  than  ever .

Nonetheless  it  was  quite  entertaining  and  there  were  plenty  of  moments  to  savour  :  Black  Francis's  horror  at  the  dance  re-mix  of  The  Cure's   Close  To  Me   - "it's  the  wrong  drumbeat  !",  Adrian  Edmondson  with  a  rubbishing  of  rap  music  that  would  see  him  run  out  of  town  if  he  said  it  today,  Bros  appearing  with  their  manager  to  keep  an  eye  on  them  and  Maria  McKee  frantically  fanning  herself  after  some  form  of  substance  abuse.

This  time  round  I  did  see  the  most  notorious  episode  where  Glenn  Medeiros  appeared  after the  panel  ( again  including  Alan  Freeman )  had   unanimously  demolished  his  latest  effort. I don't  suppose  the  Hawaiian  was  familiar  with  the  phrase " a  right  load  of  old  cobblers"  ( Vic  Reeves )  but  I  think  he  got  the  gist. Holland's  trepidation  at  introducing  him  was  palpable. Neneh  Cherry  , who'd  been  particularly  scathing  about  his  attempt  to  appear  more  "street" hid  her  face  in  her  hands  while  John  Fashanu  didn't  know  where  to look. Medeiros  managed  a  forced  grin  when  Holland  tried  to  defuse  the  tension  by  offering  him  a  fake  painting  but  couldn't  summon one  for  the  panel  and  after  giving  Bob  Mortimer  a  death  ray  glare  flounced  off  the  set. I  never  tire  of  watching  it.

The  programme  ran  to  a  second  series  in  1990  but  hasn't  been  seen  since.              

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