Various Artists

Top of the Pops, Vol. 55

  • AllMusic Rating
    5
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

As British one-hit wonders go, Sherbet surely stands among the most undeserving of all future flops -- at least if "Howzat," a funkily percolating ballad of broodingly harmonic genius (and smart-ass cricketing puns), is anything to judge by. Certainly it opens fall 1976's Top of the Pops, Vol. 55 in fine style, not only ushering in one of the year's most adventurous selections of songs, but also reminding listeners just how deeply the disco ethic was affecting the rock scene of the day. Both America's Wild Cherry ("Play That Funky Music," of course) and British veterans Climax Blues Band ("Couldn't Get It Right") scored their one and only U.K. smashes that season and, no matter how diametrically opposed their intentions may have been, still they are conjoined by an innate danceability that totally predicts the moves that Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones and company would be executing later in the decade. Indeed, the Top of the Pops interpretation of "Funky Music" is actually far more convincing than the original ever was -- famously, Wild Cherry intended the song to parody, rather than play to, the demands that small-town club audiences were making on them, and their own recording never lost the sneer implied by the song's genesis. Here, it is rattled off with a straight sincerity that gives it an earthy power that Wild Cherry itself could never muster. Disco was not the only power in the land, however -- television, too, exerted a peculiar power over the record-buying public of the age. Less than a year after its last ascent of the U.K. listings, Rod Stewart's "Sailing" was resurrected as theme to a BBC documentary on the aircraft carrier Ark Royal, and promptly charged back up the chart. (The version here simply repeats that previously featured on Vol. 47.) Fresh from big-screen roles in Tommy and Stardust, actor Paul Nicholas chalked up his second successive Top 20 hit with the exuberant "Dancing With the Captain," and the hitherto unknown Simon May erupted out of the twice-weekly soap opera Crossroads with the deliciously mawkish "Summer of My Life," executed here with an orchestral gusto that is almost Wagnerian in its conceit. Elsewhere, a game stab at replicating Greek superstar Demis Roussos' preternatural vocal range at least succeeds in rendering "When Forever Is Gone" audible to more than the dogs and dolphins who purchased the original, while straightforward versions of Chicago's chart-topping "If You Leave Me Now," the Manhattans' "Hurt," and Pussycat's "Mississippi" wrap up the best of the rest. It's not a classic Top of the Pops by any means, but it's not a bad one, either.

blue highlight denotes track pick