Thursday, 26 January 2017

593 The Other Side of the Tracks




First  viewed : 22  January  1983

This  was  a  decent  little  programme  from  Channel  4  on  a  Saturday  evening , looking  at  the  workings  of  the  music  business  by  concentrating  on  a  couple  of  artists  each  show. Because  it  was  an  hour  long  show  on  a  commercial channel, the  placing  of  the  ad  breaks  meant  that  one  artist  got  two  thirds  of  the  episode  and  the  other  just  one.

The  programme  was  devised  and  presented  by  one  of  Radio  One's  more  cerebral  DJs , the  American  ex-pat  Paul  Gambaccini  and  reflected  his  interests  in  more  ways  than  one. Most,  though  not  all,  of  the  artists  featured  were  at  least  of  some  interest  to  America  and  at  least  some  of  the  episodes  were  broadcast  there  as  well. Most  of  the  artists  were  also  reasonably  well  established - with  one  glaring  exception.  The  first  programme  ( which  I  didn't  catch )  featured   Phil  Collins  - and  Kajagoogoo.

Who ? Kajagoogoo  were  EMI's  new  signings  and  had  only  just  released  their  first  single. Were  EMI  sponsoring  the  show  or  something ?  In  promoting  the  programme,  Gambaccini , a  classic  rock  and  soul  fan,  was  gushing  over  this  plastic  haircut  band*  comparing  them  to  the  Beatles  and  other  greats. What  was  going  on ? When  the  band's  single  reached  number  one, the  tabloids  soon  winkled  out  the  truth. Gambaccini  and  the  band's  singer  Chris  Hammill  ( "Limahl ") were  living  together. Both  men  were  in  the  closet  at  the  time  and  insisted  it  was  a  platonic  arrangement  but  no  one  was  fooled.  The actual  episode  justified  itself  by  interviewing  EMI  hacks  about  the  mechanism  of  launching  a  new  band  on  the  market.

Nepotism  aside, it  was  a  well  put  together  programme which  was  engaging  even  when  you  didn't  have  much  interest  in  the  artists  involved. I'd  never  buy  a  Lionel  Ritchie  record  but  he  was  so  articulate  and  engaging  in  discussing  his  music  that  he  held  my  attention. On  the  other  hand,  Mark  "I'm  so  laid  back  I'm  not  going  to  say  anything coherent"  Knopfler   drove  me  up  the  wall.

The  programme  was  fortnightly  and  alternated  with  Gastank  , a  televised  jamming  session  memorably  described  by  Mickie  Most  as  "a  bunch  of  old  has-beens  getting  together  for  a  singsong". I  never  bothered  tuning  in  for  that.

The  show  ran  for  two  series  in  1983  and 1984.

* Kajagoogoo  actually  made  one  or  two  decent  records  after  bumping  Hammill  in  the  wake of  his  outing  but  it  was  too  late  for  them  to  be  taken  seriously.

  

2 comments:

  1. I fear you may have mixed up the singers from Kajagoogoo and Van der Graaf Generator up here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes indeed. Now corrected. Thanks !

      Delete