Closing out the week with another installment of the legendary Top Of The Pops series, via the BBC Transcription Service. This program, as always hosted by Brian Matthew, features The Easybeats, The Alan Bown, Gladys Knight & The Pips in one of their rare BBC appearances, Georgie Fame and Herman’s Hermits. It was released for broadcast worldwide on January 18, 1968.
If you are coming to music of the 60s relatively recently, you may be under the impression The Easybeats were one-hit wonders, based on their 60s anthem Friday On My Mind. They were a very successful band who established a solid fanbase in their native Australia as well as the UK where they spent a considerable amount of time. That they didn’t achieve huge popularity in the U.S. is a mystery (as many similar situations are), and that they didn’t achieve the kind of superstardom that other bands from the period did may have contributed to their breakup in 1969. But it did make it possible for the individual members of the band to do other things. Most notably co-founders Harry Vanda and George Young became much in-demand songwriters as well as producers for a number of acts and also recorded material on their own under the pseudonym Flash and The Pan in the late 70s. George Young’s younger brothers, Angus and Malcolm would form AC/DC and be produced by George and Harry Vanda. So there’s a lot of history interwoven with this band.
The Alan Bown were another band that, on the surface didn’t register, but wound up being a stepping-off place for a number of successful musicians including Robert Palmer, Jess Roden and Dave Lawson, among many others. They were together from 1965 until 1972.
Gladys Knight & The Pips were one of the rare appearances of American acts on the show. At the time of this broadcast they were just starting to make a name for themselves in the UK and they had started touring – and it’s interesting that very little live performances of the band are around, so this BBC performance is significant.
Georgie Fame has a long and celebrated career, but his popularity in the U.S. was primarily during this period and a few years earlier with his debut hit single “Yeh-yeh” and the follow up Get Away. He sings The Ballad Of Bonnie & Clyde, which was a hit for him in the States as well.
All great stuff and a treasure trove of rare and amazing recordings, all performed live at the BBC.
Enjoy, and as always the proverbial hat-tip to Gray Newell for making these gems possible.